Omega-6 and depression, stability ball, spot fat reduction, moderate drinking and health, creatine

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A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

…for millions of years our ancestors consumed a diet with about a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats? Our modern western diet consists of a 20:1 ratio (some experts say it’s possibly a 50:1 ratio) of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. The western diet is so high in omega-6 fatty acids because of our use of vegetable oil. Since the early 1900s, our consumption of vegetable oil has increased by more than 400 percent. This is mainly due to the unfounded attack on animal fats that started in the early 1900s.

There are many studies showing the detrimental effects of consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids. The latest study showed, among other things, that six patients who were diagnosed with depression had almost 18 times the amount of omega-6 fats. In fact, researchers noted depression and a poor diet went hand-in-hand.

The links between omega-6s and the incidence of depression, heart disease and many other ailments are becoming more and more clear. (

…the position of a stability ball while performing a crunch determines the degree of activity in the abdominal region? A study performed by the Department of Kinesiology at Occidental College in Los Angeles supports previous research that found varying degrees of abdominal muscle activity while performing a crunch on a stability ball, as opposed to the same movement performed on the floor. When the ball was placed high on the back, at the level of the scapula, the data shows a significant reduction in activity when compared to a crunch on the floor. When the ball was placed in the lower lumbar region however, muscular activity greatly increased.
(Journal Strength Conditioning Research. 2007;21(2): 506-509)

…spot reduction may be a reality? Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington have figured out how to remove fat from one part of the body. They found that controlling neuropeptide Y (NPY), not only causes fat to disappear from targeted areas, it also seems to slow the side effects of obesity such as heart disease and diabetes. When researchers injected mice with a drug that blocked the NPY receptor, they lost 40 percent of their belly fat, and symptoms of diabetes and other effects of obesity disappeared. The drug has yet to be tested on humans. Currently there is nothing available on the market that is clinically proven that can be used to spot reduce.
( Health Alerts)

…a study appears in the July/August issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion which shows moderate drinking may have health benefits? The study used data from a survey of more than 31,000 adults. Participants answered questions concerning alcohol consumption, health behaviors and health conditions. Researchers defined moderate drinking as four to 14 drinks per week for men and four to seven drinks per week for women. Compared to abstainers, moderate drinking men were 1.27 times as likely to report above average health. Moderate women drinkers were twice as likely to report above average health as abstainers. CHEERS! (

…creatine monohydrate was first proposed as a supplement in the 1920s, but didn’t receive real attention until the early 1990s? Since then creatine has been one of the most, if not the most, researched supplements ever. Critics of this amazing supplement claim it increased the risk of cramping and overheating during intense exercise and hot environments. More than 100 studies have shown these claims to be invalid.

The vast majority of studies concerning performance enhancement have revolved around anaerobic power and mass development. Creatine’s ability to increase anaerobic power and lean body mass are derived from water retention. More than two-thirds of the water retained is intercellular. This is why creatine is considered an extraordinary “cell volumizer.” The possibility that this “volumizing” effect might have some thermo regulatory effects has not received much attention until recently.

Training intensely generates heat in the body, and hot environments make things worse. In order to cool itself, the body sweats. Maintaining plasma volume is critical for regulating body temperature, and is also critical in maintaining athletic performance with increased body temperatures. A resent double blind crossover study showed reduced plasma volume loss in competitive cyclists and triathletes during a one-hour hypothermic bout of exercise. Two previous studies have also shown creatine’s effectiveness in maintaining a higher plasma volume during extreme heat. (J Strength Cond Res, 21(1): 57-61, 2007)

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