Archive for April, 2012

Make Lifestyles Changes That Last with a Wellness Coach

A new breed of health professional – wellness coaches – appeared on the healthcare scene about a decade ago.

Thousands of wellness coaches now serve as partners with their clients to elicit agendas and co-discover solutions.

The clients of wellness coaches learn how to lose weight, exercise more, and change their lifestyles with lasting results.

Wellness coaches differ from life coaches, personal trainers, or therapists because they use science-based techniques to enhance motivation, self-confidence, and self-regulation, says Margaret Moore, founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation.

“Studies show wellness coaches help instill long-lasting habits that, over time, become part of the brain’s hardwiring,” says Moore, who is also co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and a founding advisor of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

With more than a dozen years’ worth of wellness coaching experience, Moore has guided thousands of coaches and hundreds of clients to make the changes toward leading healthier lives.

On a CBS TV broadcast last week, Moore said “the coach is really trained to help you take a bigger picture of you, over all aspects of your health and wellness and then come up with a formula that combines all of these things together.”

And “the coaching world has come up with skills to help people make changes that last,” she said.

The TV report noted that the National Consortium for Credentialing of Health & Wellness Coaches is currently working to develop a national certification for wellness coaches.

In collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, Wellcoaches is helping to lead this initiative.

8 Ways to Super-Swimming Sperm

The You Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic — the authors of several best-selling health books, write about a sperm improvement plan in a recent syndicated column.

“Healthy sperm and a robust sperm count improve your odds that a single sperm will survive its ultra-marathon journey and meet an eligible egg,” they write.

To give your sperm a healthy “makeover” and improve your fertility, take these 8 steps for super-swimmer sperm:

1. Eat less (like none) of the bad fats and more of the good ones.

Eating lots of saturated fat — found in red meats, processed meats, full-fat dairy products and many snack foods and desserts — can reduce sperm counts by 38%, and slow the swimming ability of the remaining 62%.

But getting more omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon and wild trout means higher counts.

To get more omega-3s you can also take a supplement of 1,500 mg DHA (the most active omega-3) daily for 10 weeks, then cut back to 1,000 mg a day.

2. Hang out at the farm stand.

Filling up on fruit and veggies protects sperm quality and quantity by revving up your body’s defenses that keep them healthy.

3. Add vitamin D-3 and zinc.

Plenty of vitamin D-3 helps sperm swim better and faster.

Aim for 1,000 IU a day from a D-3 supplement.

Add 12 mg of zinc a day for a healthy sperm count and superior shape.

Great and healthy food sources of zinc include poultry, beans, cashews and no-fat, no-added-sugar yogurt.

4. Get that laptop off your lap and your phone out of your pocket.

Surfing the web or checking email with a Wi-Fi-connected laptop humming in your lap is bad news for sperms’ swimming skills and the precious DNA cargo they carry.

Phones may hamper male fertility, too.

5. Keep cool where it counts.

Sperm production needs temperatures cooler than the rest of your body, which is why hot tubs, a fever and even a desk job can torpedo your count.

Take stand-up breaks at work, let ’em breathe, and make the switch to boxers from briefs.

Tight skivvies can reduce sperm counts by up to 50 percent.

Cyclists, mix up your exercise routine, too.

6. Skip the drinks and smokes.

Smoking slashes your sperm count by 13-17% and triggers genetic abnormalities.

There’s evidence marijuana is also bad news.

More than one beer, glass of wine or cocktail a day also messes with sperm quality.

After two drinks, sperm get mixed up and travel in weird directions.

7. Stay trim for your swimmers.

Adding extra pounds subtracts from your sperm count and ups the number of abnormal sperm in your arsenal.

Why?

Obesity may alter hormone levels and heat up your testicles.

8. Don’t hold back in the bedroom.

Daily fun between the sheets improves sperm quality dramatically.

Compared to several days of abstinence, daily intimacy reduces DNA damage in sperm by about 30%.

9 Questions Every Athlete Should Ask Before Taking a Supplement

Nutritional supplements claim to improve athletic performance, but not all supplements are created equal.

According to sports dietitian Glenn Cardwell, athletes vary greatly in their response to training, environmental conditions, psychological barriers, and nutritional supplements, which makes it difficult to assess the value of proposed ergogenic aids.

“Improvement is not proof that a supplement works.

It may be just a convenient coincidence,” says Cardwell, author of the forthcoming new edition of Gold Medal Nutrition (Human Kinetics, May 2012).

“Proof only comes when the same result can be repeated time and time again.”

Before taking a nutritional supplement, Cardwell advises that you assess its potential value and ask these 9 vital questions:

1. Has there been any independent research on the supplement?

Many supplements have not been researched in healthy athletes, or the research has been done only in-house and not independently assessed.

2. If research has been conducted, has it been published in an independent, peer-reviewed scientific journal?

The marketing of some supplements relies on articles written about the product.

“An article is not the same as research,” Cardwell says.

“Before an article is published in scientific journals, experts in the field review it to make sure it is up to a high standard and conclusions are valid.”

3. Is the research relevant to athletes?

Many supplement manufacturers cite research articles that are unrelated to the claims for the product.

“One food bar claimed to assist body fat loss, yet none of the references cited to support its claim were about weight loss,” Cardwell explains.

“If you can’t assess the research yourself, ask a sports dietitian or go to a reputable website for their opinion on the research.”

4. Is the supplement patented?

If a product has been patented, then the patent holders usually do most of the research because they will directly benefit from future sales.

“Truly independent research is rarely published in such circumstances,” Cardwell says.

5. Is the majority of research from one researcher or laboratory?

The value of a supplement can be determined only if many researchers from different laboratories work independently to assess it under varying conditions.

“This has been done, for example, in the case of creatine and sports drinks,” Cardwell notes.

6. Has the research been performed on athletes under normal training or competition condition?

Just because a product has benefits for people with certain conditions such as heart disease or nutrition deficiency, it doesn’t follow that the same benefits hold for fit and healthy athletes.

7. Although there may be research suggesting a benefit of a supplement, is there any research showing no effect or possible dangerous side effects of using the supplement?

“If one research paper shows a positive effect, but 10 others show no effect, then it is disingenuous to mention the positive result and not to say that the balance of evidence is for no effect,” Cardwell says.

8. Is the product suited to your sport and your level of training?

“Taking supplemental creatine can benefit sprint and power athletes, but it is unlikely to benefit marathon runners,” Cardwell explains.

“If research shows a positive effect for athletes, will you get the same benefit when training purely for health and fitness?”

9. Have other independent scientists, sports dietitians, sports institutes or sports medicine groups offered supporting comments about the supplement?

Examine what organizations such as the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the National Sports Medicine Institute of the UK, the Australian Institute of Sport or Sports Dietitians Australia have to say about a supplement.

“Based on current knowledge, the best regimen for achieving optimal performance is to avoid excess body fat, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, eat enough carbohydrate to fuel your training program, eat adequate protein for muscle growth and repair, and eat for good health,” Cardwell says.

“Most nutritional supplements do not enhance sports performance in well-nourished athletes.”

Public Enemy #1 for Male Fertility: Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids, such as testosterone and its derivatives, are often taken by athletes to get “pumped.”

But these drugs have a unique side effect — they can shrink a man’s testicles and drastically reduce his fertility.

One of the more serious side effects of these poisonous chemicals is on male reproductive organs, says Marc Goldstein, MD, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery and surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Because of the high level of circulating testosterone caused by the steroids, the testicles no longer need to manufacture this hormone, so they being to shrink.

This reduces sperm production and may lead to both impotence and sterility,” says Dr. Goldstein.

In a new article posted on the American Fertility Association website, Stanton C. Honig, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery/Urology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, examines how anabolic steroids affect male fertility.

“The use of anabolic steroids historically has been used by athletes in major sports, such as weight lifting, baseball and football,” writes Dr. Honig, who is also a Staff Urologist at Yale New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, CT.

“Because these so-called ‘role models’ use these drugs, anabolic steroid use or abuse has filtered down and is being used by recreational weight lifters, college, and high school athletes.”

The good news is that in many cases this problem is reversible, Dr. Honig says.

Once performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as steroids are stopped, sperm production may start again and sperm will return in the ejaculate, usually in about 3 months.

However, for those who have used steroids for years, this may take up to 2 years.

Once steroids are stopped, medical therapy may help enhance the ability of a man’s body to restart sperm production.

What’s more, PEDs can also cause sexual dysfunction, Dr. Honig notes.

When testosterone levels crash, this may lead to tiredness, loss of energy, and loss of sex drive.

“The most important point here is if you want to have children at some point in your life, DON’T USE ANABOLIC STEROIDS!!!” Dr. Honig admonishes.

And Dr. Goldstein agrees: “If you want to preserve your fertility, do not use anabolic steroids.”

In fact, testosterone has been successfully used as a contraceptive for men, he notes.