Sunday, May 16, 2021

Do Collagen Supplements Help Your Skin?


It depends – Collagen is required for the support of the skin, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone.    In addition, collagen production declines with age which leads to increase in wrinkles.    So, Collagen is very important, but does that mean a supplement will help?

It is not that simple because any protein you eat – including collagen – is broken down into individual amino acids.      In addition, your body can manufacture certain amino acids but must be supplied with key essential amino acids.

In order to boost collagen levels the cells that make collagen must be working optimally.    This requires more than just amino acids.    There are several key micronutrients required for collagen synthesis including vitamin C, B Vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and copper.      This is why taking a high-quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula is a good insurance policy.

Beyond these nutrients collagen synthesis requires silica which can increase levels of Hydroxyproline – which is a key amino acid required for the production of collagen and elastin which is another connective tissue compound that decreases with age.

Clinical Studies with BioSil® - a patented form of highly bioavailable silica - have shown impressive results including:

Glowing Skin – reduced fine lines and wrinkles by replenishing and protecting collagen in the body.    Activated the production of elastin as well as collagen resulting in tighter, more elastic skin.

Thicker Hair – nourishes hair roots for healthier, stronger and noticeably thicker hair.

Stronger Nails – longer, smoother nails with less peeling, breaking, and splitting.

Stronger Bones and Healthier Joints – help improve bone density, joint flexibility, and reduced joint discomfort.

To learn more about the research on bioSil® click here:

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Video on Demand Workouts for Every Goal, Exercise Preference, and Ability Level

Video on Demand can be a powerful tool to increase the number of workouts you complete each week!     The Workout Anytime App provides over 1,000 video on demand workouts that can be accessed directly from the app that can easily be streamed to your flat screen TV for an amazing workout experience.

There are workouts for everybody including 

Dance (such as Zumba)

Martial arts (including kick-boxing)

Indoor Cycling Classes

High Intensity Interval Training

Core Training

Booty Sculpting



There is literally something for everyone and every ability level.    Accessing video on demand is as simple as tapping on the Red Stronger Together Upgrade Tile and doing a free 30 day trial.     The upgrade also includes many other powerful features you can see here: 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Can Stretching Increase Muscle Size?


The short answer is YES – if done correctly for this purpose.   Muscle fibers increase in size primarily from mechanical tension.    This tension can come from force production where a muscle is producing force such as performing a resistance training exercise or from passive tension that occurs when stretching the structural elements of the muscle fiber itself.

To make things even more interesting muscle growth from mechanical tension from these two different methods is additive – meaning that when a muscle produces tension and is stretched at the same time more growth is triggered than from just producing tension or just stretching.

So the very best results come from making sure we use a full range of motion when performing resistance training and emphasize loading the target muscle at longer muscle lengths.

For example a review of 26 studies found that isometric exercises done in a position where our muscles are elongated (like the bottom of a bicep curl or the bottom position of a dumbbell fly) stimulate nearly 3 times as much muscle growth!

How to Incorporate Stretching Into a Muscle Building Routine

Incorporating stretching into your resistance training is actually pretty simple – choose exercises that challenge your muscle in a deep stretch position at the bottom of the lift and keep constant tension on the target muscle throughout the range of motion – including lowering slowly and smoothly.   This means never unloading like resting a bar on your chest when doing a bench press. 

Make sure to fully stretch the target muscle at the bottom of the movement – the key is challenging our muscles in that stretched position!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Daily Mushroom Consumption Can Reduce Cancer Risk by 45%!


A recent study at the Penn State Cancer Institute discovered that eating just 18 grams of mushrooms daily reduced the risk of cancer by 45 percent!   18 Grams is about a quarter of a cup or about 1 medium size button mushroom.

There is a lot of existing evidence that mushrooms can decrease cancer risk including prostate, cervical, and breast cancer.

One of the many beneficial compounds in mushrooms is Ergothioneine (ETT) which is a unique antioxidant.    Research has shown that ETT is a potent anti-inflammatory and protects cells from damage.

The mushrooms with the highest levels of this compound include Shiitake, Oyster, and Maitake, but more commonly consumed White Button, Cremini and Portobello Mushrooms also contain significant quantities.

Mushrooms and Cognitive Decline

Research has also shown that mushrooms reduce your risk of cognitive decline as you age. 

All non-poisonous mushrooms are beneficial, and the benefits are not destroyed by cooking.   In fact, cooking by microwave or grill is shown to increase the levels of beneficial antioxidants like ETT.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Exercise and Sleep Boost Vaccine Effectivness!


You heard that right – there is considerable evidence showing that regular exercisers produce higher level of antibodies in response to vaccinations!   This is particularly true for older adults.

Several studies have examined the link between regular exercise and physical fitness and immune response to vaccination.   A new study provided more evidence.    

In this study scientists recruited a group of young athletes and compared their immune response to flu vaccination to a group of age matched healthy non-exercisers.      The athletes produced significantly higher levels of antibodies and immune cells in response to vaccination compared to their sedentary counterparts.

Exercise can Reduce Vaccine Reactions

Another study with older men looked at two groups:  one did a resistance training workout prior to vaccination and the other group was sedentary during this time.  The workout group had fewer vaccine reactions but their level of immune response was NOT negatively affected.

Sleep and Response to Vaccines

There is extensive evidence showing the link between sleep and immunity!   Therefore, it is not surprising that several studies have shown a relationship between length of sleep and immune response to vaccination.  

A 2020 study showed people who get a good night’s sleep for the two nights prior to flu vaccination have an enhanced immune response.

Other studies have showed that sleep after vaccination also impacts immune response in a positive manner showing increased antibody production.

Take Home Message

The take home message is simple:  regular exercise and prioritizing sleep are key to improving your immune response to vaccination!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Exercise, Covid and Recovery


Click this link to watch this short video presentation to learn how exercise affects immunity, helps prepare your body to resist Covid and other Viral Infections:  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

A Simple Method to Double Your Weight Loss!


So, what is the secret?    Logging all the food and beverages you eat!   That’s right science has proven that people who log what they consume can double their weight loss compared to those who do not!

In a recent study those people who self-monitored three or more times per day and were consistent day after day lost the most weight and fat.   Another study showed that people who keep a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who did not.  

According to researchers: 

“It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.   Keeping a food diary does not have to be a formal thing.

 Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-it Note, sending yourself emails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice.

It’s the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior.”

Writing down or digitally logging what you eat helps keep you from “mindless” eating, and it helps prevent underestimating food and beverage intake.  It has been proven time and time again that virtually everyone underestimates their actual food and beverage intake and how many calories we expend in formal exercise and day to day activities.

The key is to log often – do NOT wait until the end of the day – log everything immediately after you consume it!

Whether you choose to use the Workout Anytime App and the Food and Nutrition App that is part of the Stronger Together App Upgrade vs using paper and pen is simply a matter of personal preference – the key is to get logging your food!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Hearing Loss and Dementia


A large study showed that hearing loss in mid-life was more strongly linked to cognitive decline and dementia that obesity or high blood pressure!     The researchers all learned that of all the modifiable risk factors for dementia – hearing loss management came out as the most effective in preventing dementia cases.

This research showed that almost one out of ten cases of dementia could be prevented by hearing aids!

Hearing Loss and the Brain

Exactly how hearing loss impacts the brain is not known, but researchers have speculated that memory may be impacted by hearing loss because the brain needs to direct more mental activity towards hearing and away from memory.

Hearing Aids Can Delay Dementia

Another study showed that hearing aids could delay the onset of dementia by several years through use of hearing aids.   Hearing aids also are also proven to improve quality of life and reduce depression.   

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Natural Methods for Dealing with Seasonal Allergies


Season allergies to pollen and mold seem to get more and more prevalent each year with progressively more severe symptoms in sufferers.    Treating allergies with nutrition and nutrition supplements can have big advantages over using medications.    

Allergy medication most commonly comes in the form of Antihistamines, and there are some big problems with long-term use of these medications.     It is now known that prolonged use of antihistamines decreases levels of acetylcholine which is a key neurotransmitter involved in memory and other important functions.   In fact, antihistamine use increases the risk of senility, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

What are Allergies Anyway?

Allergies are abnormal immune reactions to specific agents (proteins) known as antigens/allergens, which include many substances such as foods, drugs, pollens, dust mites, animal danders, feathers, along with many others.  

Allergies may also develop when an otherwise innocent substance has significant contact with an already inflamed surface (known as sensitization).  For example, when sick with a respiratory illness, respiratory surfaces are already inflamed and substances present at this time may be “remembered” as being foreign.  This can also occur with chemical substances known as “haptons” which are combinations of self and non-self which can lead the immune system to attack the self.  

Since there are multiple pro-inflammatory substances involved with allergies it is rare to obtain adequate control with single products/medications.  The most potent chemical mediators in allergies and asthma are leukotrienes.  Some leukotrienes are one thousand times more potent than histamine as stimulators of bronchial constriction and allergy.  

Interestingly, many medications that reduce one inflammatory pathway actually boost leukotrienes.    For example, Aspirin and other NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Ibuprofen) result in the production of excessive levels of leukotrienes in sensitive individuals although they decrease prostaglandins associated with inflammation and thereby relive pain.  So long term they can create a much more severe problem.

Asthma is linked to allergies and can be a severe and life threatening condition.   Do NOT try to self-treat Asthma – see a physician!

Strategies for Allergies

Try to avoid allergens by using air filters, regularly cleaning all surfaces and vacuuming and keeping your air-conditioning system on while regularly changing filters to filter out as many allergens as possible.   Remember your car cabin filter as well, and take showers and wash clothes after being outside for long periods of time.

Change your diet to reduce inflammation.    Dramatically reduce your intake of refined carbohydrate – sugar and starch which drive insulin which drives inflammation.

Boost your intake of low glycemic, organic fruits and vegetables such as berries, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, etc.   These plant foods contain polyphenols which are potent antioxidants and help to reduce inflammation and allergies without side effects.

Increase your intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids from cold water fish such as Alaskan Wild Salmon and/or take an Omega 3 Supplement such as Krill Oil.    Omega 3 fatty acids will always reduce inflammation if taken in sufficient dosages so this should be a primary strategy for allergy sufferers because they produce many side benefits.   The only exception is people taking any type of medication to thin blood and reduce clotting like Coumadin.   In this case the combination can be dangerous! 

Nutritional Supplements for Allergies

There are several highly effective nutrition supplements for allergies including some key herbs.

Local Raw Honey – it MUST be local and must be raw because it will contain small amounts of local pollen and works by getting the body used to pollen much like an allergy shot.     A Tablespoon a day is as much as you need.   Many people swear by this simple and safe remedy!

Stinging Nettle Extract – this herb has a long history of effective use for allergies and freeze dried preparations seem to work the best and are best taken BEFORE allergy season even begins to put a damper on symptoms before they start – this is true of all nutritional approaches to allergy by the way!

Euphrasia Officianalis – aka “Eyebright” is an herb which name says it all – it is highly effective for eye allergy symptoms.

Quercetin – is a flavonoid contained in high amounts in apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and sprouts, and raw red onions.   To treat allergies taking supplemental quercetin is the way to go.   However standard quercetin supplements are not very bioavailable, but there are two new forms of quercetin which are highly bioavailable (10 - 50 times more!).     This includes Bioactive Quercetin EMIQ by Natural Factors and Quercetin Lipomicel Matrix by Natural Factors (both are easy to find on Amazon).

These forms of quercetin really work and not just for allergies - quercetin is proven to prevent and mitigate just about every virus out there - in fact it is in clinical trials for prevention and treatment of Covid right now!      It helps prevent virus's from entering the cell and replicating and also acts as a zinc ionophore meaning it helps shuttle zinc into cells where zinc can help defeat viruses.     At the first sign of symptoms double or triple the dose for allergies - it works for colds and flu as well.

To get a sense of just how powerful quercetin can be for prevention and mitigation of viral illness check out these previous blogpost: 

Boswellia Extract – Boswellia aka Frankincense (yes the herb mentioned in the bible!) can be highly effective for allergies and other forms of inflammation including arthritis because it blocks the formation of leukotrienes!    To get the benefits you must take 5-loxin which is a specific extract.   Note that in some individuals 5-loxin can cause or exacerbate heart burn so it is not for everyone, but when it works it can be highly effective!

Butterbur Extract – this plant extract can be highly effective for inhibiting leukotrienes and allergy symptoms or side effects.   You need to take a standardized extract with standardized levels of Petasin and Isopetasin) and free of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids aka PA.  High quality brands include Life Extension, Swanson, and Enzymatic Therapy to name a few.   This product can also help many migraine sufferers and is a well-researched, proven treatment. 

NAC – N-Acetyl Cysteine - helps thin mucus naturally and boost levels of the body’s most important antioxidant Glutathione – every allergy sufferer should be taking 600 – 1,200mg per day!

You will also find combination of these ingredients in particular products, and it is worth experimenting a bit because if you find the right product or combination of natural products you can find relief without sedation and without the side effects associated with antihistamines and more potent drugs like steroid nasal sprays or oral steroids.

As always those on any type of blood thinning medication need to avoid most supplements because many plant chemicals thin the blood slightly as does omega 3 fatty acids.    Combined with blood thinning medication this can cause a serious problem.   It is always best to check with your physician look up drug nutrient interactions for any medications you are taking to avoid the small chance of issues with a nutrition supplement.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Working Out on an Empty Stomach – Good or Bad?


It is a longstanding debate: Is it better or worse to work out on an empty stomach?

To answer this lets start by looking at some cherished myths regarding eating and exercise.

Contrary to popular belief, research suggests that eating many small meals throughout the day does NOT speed up the metabolism, and skipping a meal will not make you fat.   In addition, breakfast is NOT magic!   You do NOT have to eat breakfast to be healthy, have high energy levels or be successful working out!  That does NOT mean it is bad to eat breakfast or eat frequent meals!

In fact, skipping a meal or two, also known as “intermittent fasting” can be beneficial in lowering insulin and increasing fat burning.

At the end of day if you remember nothing else remember this – calories DO count!   Your weight (and to some extent your health) does in fact depend on not overeating calories relative to what you burn.   There are MANY strategies for doing this and the most important thing is to develop a lifestyle that you can stick with that provides adequate quantities of calories (without overeating) along with adequate protein, fat, and carbohydrates and micronutrients.

  Optimizing Hormones (Fast)

As alluded to before, fasting triggers a cascade of hormonal changes in the body that can assist in mobilizing fat along with two key benefits:

1. Improved insulin sensitivity. The body releases insulin (a hormone) when you eat to allow nutrients to enter our cells and without it you are not long for this world!   Part of this action includes taking sugars out of your bloodstream and directing them to the liver, muscles, and fat cells to be used as energy later. The trouble is that eating too much and too often can make us more resistant to insulin’s effects (particularly if your diet is high in carbohydrates that have little or no fiber!).  Insulin insensitivity is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, ups the risk of heart disease and cancer, it also makes it harder to burn bodyfat.  For many people eating less frequently (i.e. fasting more regularly) can assist this issue, because it results in the body releasing insulin less often, so we become more sensitive to it.   Increased insulin sensitivity makes it easier to lose fat!

2. The second benefit to fasting is that it dramatically promotes growth hormone (GH) release, which helps the body make new muscle tissue, burn fat, and improve bone quality, physical function, and longevity.  Along with regular weight training and proper sleep, fasting is one of the best ways to increase the body’s GH.  For example, one study showed that 24 hours without food increases a male’s GH production by 2,000 percent and 1,300 percent in women. 

The other big hormone associated with muscle building is testosterone. Testosterone helps increase muscle mass and reduce body fat while also improving energy, boosting libido, and even combating depression and heart problems—in both men and women.

Fasting by itself does not have any effect on testosterone.  However, there is an easy way to produce large amounts of testosterone and growth hormone which creates an optimal environment for building muscle and burning fat: exercising on an empty stomach!

 A Quick Way to Improve Performance

Intense exercise using a lot of muscle (such as compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, cleans, pull-ups, rows, etc.) can help increase in testosterone—which is why it can make sense to combine exercise and fasting. Several studies have found that that training in a fasted state is a terrific way to build muscle, burn fat and increase insulin sensitivity.  It also makes the body absorb the post-workout meal or shake more efficiently!

More of the calories you eat go to the muscles with less being stored as body fat. Exercising on an empty stomach has been shown to be excellent for fat loss, and it has even been shown that people who train while fasted progressively increase their fat burning ability at higher levels of exercise intensity (due to an increase in fat burning enzymes at the cellular level!)

There are also potential benefits for endurance sports since running, cycling, or swimming on an empty stomach makes the body better at using fat as a fuel during exercise.   By get used to doing workouts in a fasted state and then eating before races you can supercharge your endurance by maximizing fat burning AND providing maximal glycogen storage in muscles for the best of both worlds! When the body learns to exert itself without any food, it gets better at performing when it does have fuel in the tank.

There are also some studies showing decreased performance from fasting exercise.  However, many of these studies are of Ramadan fasts, which do not allow the consumption of fluids.

Even so there are many people who do eat before exercise to provide energy during the workout.    Part of this contradiction is explained by separating short workouts for the average person vs long, hard workouts done a regular basis.   For the former exercising in a fasted state is not a problem while for the latter eating before working out can be critical.  Certainly, exercising in a fasted state is NOT for everyone – nor is it required to great good results from a workout program!

  How to get the most from Exercise while Fasting!

 First - you can consume more than just water. If you are okay with   caffeine  a coffee or tea with nothing but possibly a little half and half can   improve results by boosting fat burning even more!

 Second – the obvious time for your workout is first thing in the morning!   If   you eat early say 5:30 – 6pm and then go to bed and wake up and go workout   you are on a natural fast.

 Third – plan on eating after your workout insuring you consume protein, a     little fat, and plenty of carbs to maximize muscle building.

 Fourth - eat as many meals as you would like during your eating   window.  Note: We didn't say as many calories as you like.  But it’s not     necessary to eat many meals throughout the day.

Despite some long-held myths about the body only being able to absorb a certain amount of protein at a time, we are completely capable of digesting the day's intake in one big meal (of course, this does not mean that you need to!). Studies have shown that doing so results in no strength or muscle loss, and some have even shown that concentrating food intake into one or two meals each day can be a better way to build lean muscle mass.  

A lot of protein just takes longer to digest and be utilized, but it still does get absorbed. So, if you hate breakfast it is NOT the end of the world to skip it as is so commonly believed!  Adjust when you eat so that it allows you to best control your food intake on a long term basis.

  In Summary

Changing eating habits by skipping a meal or two can be profoundly difficult for some people and is NOT advisable for anyone who has had an issue with eating disorders such as Anorexia!

Exercising while fasting is not for everybody, and if it is not for you no need to do it.  However just because bodybuilders eat meals every 3 – 4 hours does not mean that this meal frequency or fasting during exercise does not have benefits for some people – because it does!