Branched Chain Amino Acids

branched-chain-amino-acid

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are essential amino acids (specifically, valine, leucine and isoleucine). They are essential, meaning we must get them in our diet because our bodies do not produce them. Branched chain amino acids have various functions related to energy production during and after exercise so they are needed in adequate amounts, but not excessive.

BCAA are often used to prevent fatigue and improve concentration. But the most relevant to you, perhaps, is the common practice of taking BCAAs to improve exercise performance and reduce muscle breakdown. While the first use has a fair amount of sceptics, the second is widely accepted in the medical world.

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Your morning cup of bliss has a new bill of health

Your morning cup of bliss has a new bill of health

Coffee lovers everywhere are rejoicing in new research which suggests the health benefits of our morning brew are more significant than previously thought - let's face it these days we are more used to being told the things we love are bad for us – however that does not mean we can drown ourselves in the stuff, over-indulgence is still a no-no.

For years we've been told that coffee will raise blood pressure, could lead to heart disease, ulcers and diabetes and some of this may be true. It will certainly raise your blood pressure so if yours is high coffee may be best avoided, however, when it comes to heart disease and diabetes the risk factors may not involve coffee after all. See this quote in a recent article published on Dr Mercola's website.

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Honey, take your medicine!

honeyBy Jennifer Hobbs

Honey, super sweet, unctuous and delicious, a symbol of luxury and riches for millennia. “The land of milk and honey” refers to a place where riches abound. From Biblical times, "milk and honey" have been said to denote fertility and the phrase itself was used in the bible referring to what is now known as Israel. Honey figures large in contemporary language too.“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” which means a sweet-temper will get you what you want faster than an ill-temper and surely terms of endearment like 'honey' and 'sweet-heart' refer to exactly this idea.

Honey has been used for millennia in both medicinal and domestic contexts with the earliest recorded uses of honey as a medicine dating as far back as 700BC. The ancient Egyptians used it in beauty products and honey found in the tomb of King Tut was apparently found to be edible despite being around 2000 years old. Before the discovery of beer, Mead was an alcoholic drink made from honey and was enjoyed by early Romans, and Saxons.

In more recent times scientists have been working to unlock the secrets of honey and determine if the mythical health giving properties of honey are based on fact or just superstition.

All honey consists of about 80% sugars, 17% water, and around 3 % minor nutritive and non-nutritive compounds, however, there is enormous variation in different types of honey depending on where the bees that made it foraged, so not all honeys have the same qualities. Generally speaking the darker the honey the stronger it is and better quality.

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Nuts about Nuts

nutsBy Jennifer Hobbs

Nuts are natures energy bundles. They are the mature (dry) fruit of flowering trees where the nut itself constitutes a single seed contained within a hardened ovary wall. Shoved in backpacks and pockets nuts have traditionally been a convenient energy boost for campers, hikers and boy scouts (girls too I imagine) since – well, forever. Interestingly peanuts are not nuts as they are members of the legume family, which gives us beans, however as they are still the mature fruit of the plant and contain many of the same nutrients they are just as valuable, nutritionally speaking. Each nut will produce a whole tree and contains all the fat, protein and nutrients to required to create a new tree so it should be no surprise that a single almond contains 10 calories, much of this coming from their high fat content.

It is just this high fat content that made nuts a no – no in diets for many years. All calories are not created equal though and studies reveal nuts are much less fattening than many other sources of energy. Healthy, tasty and full of protein nuts are easily one of the healthiest snack foods available. They are high in essential fatty acids, minerals and other important nutrients. It is said they can lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease.

There are many health benefits of nuts. They are high in fibre, protein and fat so they are very filling, which is good both for muscle mass and body fat loss. They contain Vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper and are a good source of anti-oxidants. A small handful of nuts a day may help prevent diabetes, heart disease, macular degeneration (loss of sight), and cancer.

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What is Lycopene?

We'll try to explain this as simply as possible.

Lycopene is a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical which is found in tomatoes, watermelons and other red fruits. Its name is derived from the tomato's species classification, Solanum lycopersicum where "lyco" is Greek for wolf, "persicum" means peach and tomato implies "wolf-peach".

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