Health24.com | 9 ‘healthy’ foods that can ruin your running

Sports nutritionists are constantly asked about which foods runners should eat to boost their performance or their health – and which they should avoid.

But separating the good guys from the nutritional offenders is not always as simple as it seems; health-food impostors can fool even savvy runners.

“Some simply don’t add much benefit and some can be detrimental to performance,” says sports nutritionist Heather Mangieri.

You know, for example, that bowls of ice cream fall on the rarely-to-never end of a runner’s diet spectrum, but some seemingly innocent foods and drinks also have a long history of committing crimes against your physiology; they should be given parole as an occasional treat or, better still, kept locked up for good.

Here’s what our jury of experts found guilty.

1. Flavoured yoghurt

yogurt

Dairy is a great source of calcium, potassium and protein, but flavoured yoghurts are usually sweetened with sugar – more than 30g per serving in some cases. “Stick with plain Greek yoghurt,” says Mangieri. It has 8g of natural sugar, plus 20g of protein, per serving.

2. Multigrain bread

bread

“Multigrain” simply means there are a number of different grains in the bread (as opposed to wholegrain, which means all parts of the grain kernel are used), so these loaves can still primarily contain refined white flour.

“I’ve seen runners buy seven-grain bread because they think it has more nutrients,” says sports nutritionist Lindsay Langford. “These may actually just have more sugar and calories and very few whole grains.”

Look at the ingredients: the first item should be wholewheat flour or another wholegrain.

3. Partially hydrogenated food

margarine

If you see partially hydrogenated oils on an ingredients list, the food contains artery-clogging trans fats.

“They increase cholesterol levels and the body can’t easily convert them to energy, so they can also decrease athletic ability,” says Langford. “Check foods like margarine and biscuits – if something has partially hydrogenated oils, skip it.”

4. (That second) beer

beer

Runners love to socialise over post-run beers and you even may have raised a glass to studies that found a pint won’t do much damage – and can even be of benefit. But, as usual, there’s a caveat: drinking more than one can hinder your body’s ability to repair itself.

“Beer has carbs, so have one, but don’t let it replace water,” says nutritionist Jim White. That’s because alcohol is a diuretic, so it can leave you dehydrated. In fact, drink extra H2O if you’re imbibing.

5. Energy drinks

energy drinks

Caffeine can boost performance and make a run seem easier. But get your buzz from a cup of coffee or an energy gel. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that athletes who used energy drinks did see slightly improved performance, but were also more likely to experience agitation, insomnia and nervousness for hours after competition.

6. Nut butter impostors

peanut butter

Peanut and almond butter can be a runner’s best friends – if you’re buying the genuine article. The ingredients list should feature nuts, salt… and that’s about it; if you prefer sweetened versions, opt for those with no more than 3g of sugar per serving, says Langford.

Flavourings such as cinnamon are fine, but watch out for chocolate-and-nut-butter spreads: some contain more than 20g of sugar and 4g of saturated fat per serving (and, often, hydrogenated oils).

7. Protein bars

energy bar

“Many of my clients think they need a protein bar or shake after they run,” says nutritionist and exercise physiologist Felicia Stoler. “But that usually comes at the expense of the carbs – and real foods – they should be eating.”

Instead, eat a little protein throughout the day, which is how the body best absorbs it. If your diet includes fish, chicken, dairy, veggies and wholegrains, you shouldn’t have to add processed protein to your post-run routine.

8. Sports drinks

Carb-rich electrolyte drinks can be lifesavers during runs that last an hour or more. Too often, though, runners down them during short runs or when they’re not exercising at all.

“Their main ingredient is sugar, and lots of it,” says Langford. “When you’re sitting at work, they’re not giving you a performance benefit – just added calories you don’t need.”

9.  Diet fizzy drinks

soda

You know the full-fat fizzy stuff is a bad-to-the-bone source of empty kilojoules and lots of other nutritional nasties, but runners should steer clear of diet drinks, too. A study published in the journal Nature found that artificial sweeteners used in these drinks may alter gut microbes in a way that increases glucose intolerance, potentially increasing diabetes risk.

And artificial sweeteners such as aspartame can also cause GI distress in runners, says White, as can carbonation. “An occasional can won’t hurt you,” he says, “but when people drink it regularly and in place of water, the effects can be devastating.”

This article was originally featured on www.runnersworld.co.za

Image credits: iStock

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Health24.com | Could Facebook stop a disease outbreak?

Social media has been under scrutiny before for having a negative impact on one’s health, whether it’s making you feel more isolated, increasing depression or simply becoming an addiction.

But now it seems like social media platforms could be the saving grace in the case of a disease outbreak.

Easier to pinpoint sick individuals

Facebook accounts and telephone records can be used to pinpoint the best individuals to vaccinate to stop a disease outbreak in its tracks, researchers said.

Such people would be “central” in their social networks, and thus likelier to spread disease-causing germs from one group to another.

Assuming there is an outbreak, and not enough vaccines for every person in the world, immunising these well-connected individuals would remove social “bridges” by which germs can spread, experts wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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What the study entailed

The study, which tracked the digital and physical contacts of more than 500 university students, concluded that people who are central in their digital networks are also central in their real-life human networks.

“If you are a hub for your friends in the sense that you have many contacts via phone calls or on Facebook, making you a bridge between diverse communities, chances are high that you are also likely to be a bridge to connect those communities in case of an epidemic, such as influenza,” study co-author Enys Mones of the Technical University of Denmark told AFP.

“By understanding the online contacts, we can find individuals who are such central members of the population and focus targeted counter-measures on them when there are limited resources for vaccination.”

An easy, affordable method

Using computer modelling, the research then calculated that vaccinating these “central” individuals would be “almost as efficient as the most optimal (existing) vaccination strategies”.

It was also cheaper, as digital activity is easy to trace.

The goal of vaccination is to reduce the size of the population at risk of infection. It achieves something called “herd immunity”, whereby unvaccinated people are increasingly unlikely to come into contact with an infectious individual.

Image credit: iStock 

Health24.com | 5 ways to help your teen cope with acne

Your teen is experiencing his or her first bout of acne and is distraught. Imagine the scenario: someone who has just got rid of their braces is now battling bad skin – a deadly knock to any young person’s self-esteem.

It’s important that parents give the kind of advice that will build their children’s self-esteem. Although beauty might only seem skin-deep, acne can leave more than physical scars for many years.

Especially vulnerable are those who are about to start high school. Here’s how to help your teen through acne this year:

1. Refer your teen to a dermatologist

There are many products on the market targeting teenage acne, and it is difficult to find a suitable treatment by simply trusting labels. Treating acne is a difficult, individual process. Find a suitable dermatologist in your area and let your teenager go into the examining room alone. This will enable them to form a bond with the dermatologist and talk through treatment without you interfering. Encourage your teen to use the treatment according to directions.

teenager at dermatologist

2. Take acne seriously

Don’t dismiss your teen as being “vain” and don’t tell them that it’s just a couple of pimples that will clear up. Many studies link acne to lower self-esteem, and while your teen might wait patiently for the acne to clear up, their self-esteem may take a big knock. Your teen might also be bullied and be called names by children at school. Take your teen seriously and help them find a suitable solution. Listen to what they’re saying and don’t let them feel like they’re overreacting.

mother talking to teenage daughter

3. It has nothing to do with hygiene (or eating, or anything else you do)

Acne is triggered by hormonal imbalances and excessive oil production. Don’t accuse your teen of poor hygiene or eating habits, but do encourage them to follow a suitable skincare routine which includes washing their face twice a day. However, bear in mind that overwashing the face may aggravate the acne. Encourage a healthy, balanced diet but don’t shame them for eating a chocolate once in a while.

teenage girl washing her face

4.  Tell them they are not alone

As much as they don’t want to hear it, it’s important for them to understand that acne is a common teenage condition. Don’t promise them they will outgrow it, as acne can take a long time to resolve.

mom and daughter

5. Tell them to be patient and positive

Acne will not go away overnight, and it takes time and perseverance to find the right regimen. Encourage them to stick to their skincare regime. Looks are very important in the teenage psyche, making it hard for them to focus on anything else, but try your best to emphasise other positive qualities in your teen. Also allow your teenage daughter to experiment with a light foundation to cover up her acne, which may boost her confidence. 

teenage girls having fun

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Health24.com | Listeriosis has deadly company on notifiable list

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has addressed the media on the updated Listeriosis figures for the country.

Motsoaledi added that the country’s list of notifiable medical conditions (NMCs) had been updated during December and Listeriosis was now a category 1 NMC.

Rapid spread and unusual behaviour

The disease joins the likes of Ebola, anthrax, whooping cough and plague.

In order for the disease to qualify as notifiable, it would need to meet two of the five points of the qualifying criteria:

  • The disease must be contagious or communicable
  • Rapid spread
  • Unusual or unexpected behaviour
  • Risk of spilling across borders
  • Risk of restriction to business or travel across borders

The Health Department has concluded that the disease qualifies because it spreads rapidly and has unusual or unexpected behaviour.

In December 2017, the Department of Health included Listeriosis in the Category 1 Classification of Notifiable Medical Conditions in the Government Gazette number 41330 of 15 December 2017 – a new policy document which details the regulations for surveilling and controlling NMCs.

Category 1 NMCs are considered highly contagious diseases and require immediate reporting to authorities through the fastest medium possible, once diagnosis has been made.

Continuing challenges

A number of organisations are working together to find the source of the outbreak around the country, but the Department continues to face challenges when tracing the numerous laboratory-confirmed cases back to the actual patients around the country.

Out of the 727, the Department has only managed to trace 134 patients, and of those, 61 patients have died.

The Minister and Health Department are asking health professionals in the public and private sector to report all cases of Listeriosis according the procedures applicable to all NMCs.

Motsoaledi added that health professionals need to complete case investigation forms for patients with Listeriosis and submit these forms to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. More information for health professionals and the public can be sourced from the NICD website.

Image credit: iStock

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Health24.com | Listeriosis now a Category 1 Notifiable Medical Condition

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has addressed the media on the updated Listeriosis figures for the country.

Motsoaledi added that the country’s list of notifiable medical conditions (NMCs) had been updated during December and Listeriosis was now a category 1 NMC.

Rapid spread and unusual behaviour

The disease joins the likes of Ebola, anthrax, whooping cough and plague.

In order for the disease to qualify as notifiable, it would need to meet two of the five points of the qualifying criteria:

  • The disease must be contagious or communicable
  • Rapid spread
  • Unusual or unexpected behaviour
  • Risk of spilling across borders
  • Risk of restriction to business or travel across borders

The Health Department has concluded that the disease qualifies because it spreads rapidly and has unusual or unexpected behaviour.

In December 2017, the Department of Health included Listeriosis in the Category 1 Classification of Notifiable Medical Conditions in the Government Gazette number 41330 of 15 December 2017 – a new policy document which details the regulations for surveilling and controlling NMCs.

Category 1 NMCs are considered highly contagious diseases and require immediate reporting to authorities through the fastest medium possible, once diagnosis has been made.

Continuing challenges

A number of organisations are working together to find the source of the outbreak around the country, but the Department continues to face challenges when tracing the numerous laboratory-confirmed cases back to the actual patients around the country.

Out of the 727, the Department has only managed to trace 134 patients, and of those, 61 patients have died.

The Minister and Health Department are asking health professionals in the public and private sector to report all cases of Listeriosis according the procedures applicable to all NMCs.

Motsoaledi added that health professionals need to complete case investigation forms for patients with Listeriosis and submit these forms to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. More information for health professionals and the public can be sourced from the NICD website.

Image credit: iStock

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