Staying Fit DOES Makes a Difference

After reading this study, there is evidence that it does.

40-Year-Old Triathlete

Unsurprising

The study I liked to above is called “Chronic Exercise Preserves Lean Muscle Mass in Masters Athletes.”  The image above is a cross section of the legs of a 40-year-old triathlete and the associated muscle.

The two images below are the interesting ones though…

74-Year-Old Sedentary Man
74-Year-Old Triathlete

 

As you can see, the 74-year-old legs are not unlike those of the 40-year-old.

The study’s authors go on to write:
“It is commonly believed that with aging comes an inevitable decline from vitality to frailty. This includes feeling weak and often the loss of independence. These declines may have more to do with lifestyle choices, including sedentary living and poor nutrition, than the absolute potential of musculoskeletal aging.

In this study, we sought to eliminate the confounding variables of sedentary living and muscle disuse, and answer the question of what really happens to our muscles as we age if we are chronically active. This study and those discussed here show that we are capable of preserving both muscle mass and strength with lifelong physical activity.”

They conclude by writing:

“The loss of lean muscle mass and the resulting subjective and objective weakness experienced with sedentary aging imposes significant but modifiable personal, societal, and economic burdens. As sports medicine clinicians, we must encourage people to become or remain active at all ages. This study, and those reviewed here, document the possibility to maintain muscle mass and strength across the ages via simple lifestyle changes.”

I wish they would have had a picture of the legs of a 40-year-old sedentary man.  Then some real comparisons could be made.  But just look at the legs of the 74 year olds.  How amazing is that?

Did Meat Make Us Smarter?

There was a very interesting article on NPR that I just found.  It’s called Food for Thought: Meat-Based Diet Made Us Smarter.

Essentially, the article is saying that when our ancestors switched from eating only fruit, vegetables, and nuts, to eating more meat, we had more time to spend on other things.  Digestion was using up the majority of the bodies energy supply, but then we started to eat meat and:

Meat is packed with lots of calories and fat. Our brain — which uses about 20 times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle — piped up and said, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

When we started to eat meat, our teeth, jaw, and mouth changed – as well as the big gut we were carrying around.  We had a big gut because we were eating everything raw.  Not that raw diets are bad, but cooking some foods helps the body digest those foods.  Raw foods were just being kept in our bellies being digested.

What does this mean to us?

Is it wrong to be a vegetarian?

I don’t believe this article is making that claim, but it’s fun to think about.  It is only saying that eating meat and cooking our food allowed humans to have more energy to do more things while thinking about other problems to be solved.  I guess one could make the argument that humans today need to have meat in their diets, but that is another argument and not at all the focus of this article or the research behind it.

All this article is saying is that eating and cooking meat helped humans evolve faster.

Caffeine Addiction

It may be a bit surprising to hear, but I have never been a big coffee drinker.

Even when I moved to Seattle, where I lived for 2 ½ years, I never really got into the whole “I have to buy a cup of coffee every day”.  While it’s true that there are coffee shops just steps away from you at all times, I never found a need to go get coffee every day.  Sure, they were great meeting spots.  Yes, I had some every now and then.  But my morning never revolved around a cup of joe.

So this article was really interesting to me:
Caffeine addicts get no real perk from morning cup

Basically, the article boils down to the following: “Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee, or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal.”

Apparently, the caffeine brings frequent consumers back to the level that they would have been at had they not been hooked on caffeine in the first place.

This may be totally inconsequential to many of you.  I do realize how much routine means to some – it means a LOT to me.  But if you are interested in lowering the caffeine that you take in every day, I would suggest doing it slowly.  Wean yourself off as opposed to making a huge jump off the caffeinated cliff.

How to Properly Heat a Steel Pan

This is fascinating to me.

SteelPanApparently, there is a heat “sweet spot” to cook meats and such things with the stainless steel pan.  At this temperature, the things you are cooking won’t stick to the pan as much as it would if you were at a different temperature.

To test, you just have to take a small portion of water (they suggest 1/8 of a teaspoon, but I was using 1/4 teaspoon) and continually check the heat of the pan.  At a certain point, the water will cease to evaporate immediately and instead form a ball of water that kind of looks like mercury.  THAT is the sweet spot.

I, for one, have definitely suffered from scraping off the extra food that stuck.  It makes me not even want to use my pan sometimes.

A very cool bit of science.