Author Archives: Cyndi

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

It is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This includes about one in thirteen children under the age of 18.  Each year in the U.S., 200,000 people need emergency medical care due to allergic reactions to food! (Food Allergy Research &  Education)

A food allergy is a medical condition when a food causes a harmful immune response.  This allergic reaction happens because the immune system attacks proteins in the food that are normally harmless.  The body thinks the food in an invader.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to a food can be mild or severe and can appear immediately or up to two hours after exposure. Symptoms include:

  • tingling sensation in the mouth
  • itching
  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of the tongue or throat
  • vomiting
  • cramps
  • difficulty breathing
  • drop in blood pressure
  • severe reaction called anaphylaxis can be fatal

Any food could be a potential allergen, but there are 8 foods that are the most common:

  1. dairy
  2. eggs
  3. peanuts
  4. soy
  5. gluten or wheat
  6. tree nuts (walnuts or cashews for example)
  7. fish
  8. shellfish

*Some allergists have concerns that a sesame allergy is on the rise*

Having a food allergy is nothing to take lightly.  It can impact your quality of life.  There is no cure as the best thing to do is avoid the food and know how to recognize any symptoms.  It’s not easy to steer clear of these foods as they are used abundantly in many processed foods.  Luckily, there is a law that requires food manufacturers to list any of the common 8 potential allergens on food packaging.  Also, if there could be any cross-contamination where the food was processed.

Food sensitivities or intolerances are not as serious as food allergies but can have many similar symptoms.  The immune system does not play a role in food sensitivities as it does with food allergies and symptoms of intolerances are not life-threatening.

Sometimes a food intolerance is from a deficiency in an enzyme that is needed to breakdown a food.  An example would be lactose-intolerance.  This is from a shortage of lactase, which is needed to digest the sugar.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities. Do you know the signs and symptoms? Click To Tweet

Food sensitivities are usually self-diagnosable.  There aren’t any accurate, reliable tests to determine food intolerance.  The best way to figure out if you have any food sensitivities or intolerances is through an elimination diet.  My next blog post will be all about the elimination diet and how you can discover foods that may cause symptoms.

An allergic reaction to a food can appear immediately or within two hours, but signs of a food intolerance may take longer to show up.  It can take hours or up to 2 days.  The following are signs or symptoms of food sensitivity or intolerance:

  • stomach and abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • headaches and migraines
  • runny nose
  • hives
  • feeling “under the weather”
  • runny nose
  • chronic muscle or joint pain
  • rashes or other skin conditions

As you can see, experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis would not be very pleasant.  The best treatment for a food sensitivity is to avoid the offending food and the hardest part is figuring out what the offending foods are.

Two important facts to remember are

                           *food allergy is an immune system reaction to a food

                           *food intolerance is an inability to digest a food

Food allergies or sensitivities don’t have to wreck your life!  They can be controlled.  A medical processional can identify a food allergy.  A sensitivity or intolerance to a food is best found by doing your own research. Listening to your body and knowing the signs and symptoms will set you up for success.

Do you have a food allergy?

Do you experience any of the symptoms of food sensitivity?



FIRST Guidelines to Improve Muscular STRENGTH

In my last post, I wrote about using the FIRST guidelines for improving muscular endurance.  Now we’ll focus on improving muscular strength.  Muscle strength is defined as “the ability to exert a maximal amount of force for a short period of time“.

We all need muscle strength for most activities of daily living.  Lifting the groceries, picking up your child, or housework.  If you’re interested in improving your muscle strength, you can easily create a program following these guidelines.

FIRST guidelines for Improving Muscular Strength

Frequency:  When you strength train at a high intensity, it causes considerable microtrauma to the tissue which usually takes about 72 hours for recovery.  If you perform total-body workouts, two sessions per week would be advised.  If you like to do split routines, be sure to take at least 72 hours between workouts for the same muscles.  An example of a split routine would be to work chest, shoulders, and triceps on Mon and Thurs; Tues and Fridays work the upper back and biceps; Wed and Saturdays would be legs and trunk.  *Please note that the 72 hour waiting period is recommended when you are strength training at a high intensity using close to your maximum resistance*

Intensity:  In the beginning stages of training for strength, you can be successful using a wide range of weightloads.  However, for the best strength improvement, it’s advised to use weightloads between 80-90% of your max resistance.  Performing one to three reps with more than 90% of your max is very effective for developing strength, but this isn’t recommended for the average person.

Repetitions:  Training for muscular strength requires fewer reps than when training for muscular endurance.  When using higher weightloads, you aren’t able to perform as many reps.  In most cases it is suggested to complete four to six repetitions to improve muscular strength.  When you can complete 7 reps, it’s time to increase the weight by about 5%.

Sets:  Improvements in muscular strength can be gained with both single-set or multiple-set training.  It’s a good idea to start with one hard set of each exercise and increase when you feel comfortable.  Muscular strength programs typically do not go beyond 3-4 sets of each exercise.  Keep in mind that longer rest periods are needed in between sets.  Two to five minutes of recovery are advised between sets of the same exercise which means workouts will take longer.  Luckily, single-set programs can be just as effective for improving strength.

Type:  As with training for muscular endurance there are several options for muscular strength training.  Although, free weights and standard machine exercises are favored when your goal is to develop more strength.

Increases in muscular strength coincide with increases in muscular endurance, but it’s more important to focus on training intensity when your goal is to improve strength.  Split routines or total body strength training routines are both effective.  It’s mostly a matter of preference and lifestyle.

Want to Improve muscular STRENGTH? Use these FIRST guidelines! Click To Tweet

The progress one makes varies from person to person.  It’s not realistic to automatically increase your workload each week.  If your repetition range is 4-6 per set, once you can complete 6 reps with proper technique you can then increase the weight by about 5%.  Then start back at 4 reps and work up to 6 reps.

Using these guidelines is a very efficient way to improve muscular strength.  Both muscular endurance and muscular strength are important for overall physical fitness.  The FIRST guidelines are fairly easy to follow and can be very helpful when creating your program.

Do you prefer total body training or a split routine?

 



Guidelines for Improving Muscular ENDURANCE

When creating a resistance training program, you can use the FIRST acronym as a guide:  frequency, intensity, repetitions, sets, and type of exercise.  Using these five essential factors can help you easily develop a workout plan to help reach your goals.

The purpose of this post is to discuss how to use the FIRST guidelines for improving muscular endurance.  Muscular endurance is defined as “the ability of a muscle or a group of muscles to repeatedly exert force against resistance“.  Muscular endurance is usually determined by an increase number of repetitions completed with slightly less than your maximum resistance.  In my next post, I’ll focus on guidelines for improving muscular strength.

Common training plans for muscular endurance focus on a total-body workout consisting of exercises for the larger muscle groups of the legs, then the trunk, and ending with the upper body and arms.

FIRST Guidelines for Improving Muscular Endurance

Frequency:  During the first few months of a typical strength-training program, two or three workouts a week seem to be equally effective for developing muscular fitness.  But, as you advance and get at higher training levels, you’ll need more time to recover between sessions.  Proper recovery time is crucial.  Three training sessions a week is sufficient for improving muscular endurance, but if you cannot complete the same or more reps at your next session the frequency of your training should be reduced to twice per week.

Intensity:  One of the goals of training for muscular endurance is to work the muscles that you are focusing on to fatigue.  For most people, this is about 12-16 controlled reps.  Typically, 12 repetitions can be done with about 70% of max resistance and 16 reps with about 60% max resistance.  For that reason, the recommended training intensity for muscular endurance is between 60-70% of your max resistance.

Repetitions:  The range recommended for enhancing muscular endurance is between 12-16 controlled reps that work the muscle to fatigue.  You should increase the resistance by about 5% when you can complete 16 controlled reps.  When you increase the weight, this usually shortens the set by 2-4 repetitions then you work your way back up to 16 reps.

Sets:  Multiple sets of each exercise are advised in a program for muscular endurance.  It’s also important to take short rest periods between sets.  So, you could do two or three sets of each exercise with <60 seconds of rest in between.

Type:  There are many options of resistance exercises that will help improve muscular endurance.  Medicine balls, bands, free-weights, and machines are all efficient for training.  Use whatever you feel most comfortable with.  It’s also helpful to switch it up to prevent boredom.  Keep in mind that you should work all major muscle groups, but you don’t have to do each one individually.  For example, if you do the bench press, shoulder press, and bar dips, you won’t have to do a specific triceps exercise.

Trying to Improve your Muscular Endurance through Strength Training? Follow these FIRST… Click To Tweet

If you are specifically training for muscular endurance, following these FIRST guidelines can be very helpful in planning your strength training program.

Are you strength training for muscular endurance?

Do you create your own programs?