In today’s health & fitness digest:
- Iron supplementation shown to boost mental performance in women without iron anaemia
- High fat dairy “beats” low fat dairy in lowering blood pressure, triglycerides and VLDL Cholesterol
- Blood levels of Omega 3 affect your risk of depression
- Yet another study that demonstrates that you don’t need to take sodium for hot/humid endurance races
Iron supplementation shown to boost mental performance in women without iron anaemia
While many of us are aware of the impact of anaemia (a common problem for women) on mental and physical function, what is interesting in this new research from the Journal of Nutrition is that even “mild iron deficiency” seems to have a significant impact on young women, even in the absence of anaemia. In fact, the study involving 127 women age 18-35 demonstrated a strong correlation between iron status and attention, faster reaction time, self-control and planning ability.
So it’s a good idea to get tested and supplement if needed. Do NOT exceed recommended dosage, and do NOT supplement if you don’t have any deficiency. That same study showed that there is no further improvement once the deficiency is corrected, and too much iron can have a number of deleterious effects on women’s health.
High fat dairy “beats” low fat dairy in lowering blood pressure, triglycerides and VLDL Cholesterol
The DASH diet is the “standard diet” recommended by doctors, dieticians and health practitioners to fight high blood pressure. The diet is high in fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. HOWEVER, as this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates, a DASH-like diet which replaces low-fat dairy with regular (high fat) dairy not only performed equally well in terms of lowering blood pressure, but in fact performed even BETTER when it came to lowering both triglycerides and VLDL (the “real” bad cholesterol).
The 3 biggest risk factors for heart disease are: blood pressure, triglycerides, and VLDL (not LDL). This is in-line with numerous recent studies which demonstrated that “high fat dairy” is better at lowering “bad cholesterol” and “fighting obesity” than low fat dairy.
Blood levels of Omega 3 affect your risk of depression
I’ve often talked about the numerous benefits of Omega 3 for overall health. Omega 3 are fatty acids which are critical for the health of your nervous system, especially your brain. This new study from the British Journal of Nutrition, and undertaken in Japan, demonstrated that there is a direct link between your “blood levels of EPA & DHA (Omega 3)” and “risk of depression”. The higher the level, the lower the prevalence of depression.
The best way to boost your Omega 3 is by including fatty fish in your diet: salmon, sardines, mackerel. If you need to supplement, chose a high quality fish oil that’s “cold-processed”, kept refrigerated and not exposed to any light.
VEGANS beware: despite what you read on common websites / magazines, flaxseed does NOT provide anywhere near enough DHA. Fish oil gives you EPA & DHA directly (DHA being the most critical for human brains). Flaxseeds give you ALA, which needs to be converted into DHA. Except that humans are terrible at doing that conversion. In fact, the ALA-DHA conversion ratio is 46 to 1, so you’ll need to take 46 Flaxseed Omega 3 capsules to get the equivalent of 1 Fish Oil capsule.
Another new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a link between intake of Omega 3 from fish and lower risk of a decline in cognitive (mental) function, including dementia.
Yet another study that demonstrates that you don’t need to take sodium for hot/humid endurance races
I’ve talked in the past about how “using salt during endurance races will boost performance” is pure BS and has no scientific basis. This study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research puts yet another nail in that coffin. In summary: 233 ultra-marathon runners, 160km race in 39C heat. Conclusions: those who took sodium supplements retained more water vs. those who didn’t take sodium, but guess who performed better? The “non-sodium” group.
But of course, we can’t ignore the “placebo effects”. Many people “swear by” salt supplements when training/racing. That’s ok: there is a mental / placebo effect, which may help you “feel better” without having a real impact on your performance. Just be aware of this: any extra sodium you take puts pressure on your kidneys, so keep it to a minimum.
As usual, any questions / comments, hit reply or comment below.
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