Vaccines and autism link, autism research, essential fatty acids, Omega-3, barbell squat

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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.

…the link between autism and vaccines is becoming more evident through research? However, vaccine proponents would have you believe that there is no link what-so-ever. This claim is getting harder and harder to justify. A 2010 study conducted by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found that many infant monkeys that were given standard doses of childhood vaccines developed symptoms of autism. The unvaccinated monkeys developed no symptoms. The study was presented to the International Research Meeting for Autism Research in London, England, In May 2012. All other drugs must go through safety testing prior to approval, but not the vaccinations given to children.

SOURCE: Wise Traditions 13(2):18, 2012)


…essential fatty acids like omega-3 and 6 are highly unstable and spoil very easily when exposed to heat and light? As I have stated many times, the problem with most oils -- especially polyunsaturated oils -- is the processing or extraction. It's always best to eat the food in its most whole and natural state. So, if you must use flax oil, buy the seeds and then grind them yourself in a coffee grinder immediately before using them. Having said that, you can buy flax oil that has been cold pressed and packaged into UV light-blocking bottles that keep the oil close to its most natural state. However, there is still another problem for humans to get the benefits of the omega-3s in flax. There is a two-step conversion process to change ALA to DHA, which is the most biologically active form we can use. Most people convert about 5 percent during each step, which amounts to under 1 percent of the ALA being converted to DHA. If you're looking for a good source of omega-3, stick with fish oil, or better yet, krill oil.

…the barbell back squat (BBS) is widely regarded as the king of all exercises? Without question, no other exercise works as many major muscle groups as thoroughly or as intensely as the squat. It is also a highly functional and safe exercise, and is used as a key component of many strength training programs including Olympic lifting. The BBS is also a mainstay in bodybuilding routines given its record for overall leg development. Because of its efficacy and versatility, the squat has been studied repeatedly for many different purposes. A review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined studies that investigated muscle activation during the BBS to clarify how the exercise can be appropriately applied for different goals. The following are some highlights of this review:

  • Increasing the stance width increases the activation of the adductors and gluteus maximus, but not the quadriceps or hamstrings.
  • Activation of the muscles of the legs and trunk increase as a consequence of the increase in external load, not stance width.
  • Free BBS elicits a higher overall EMG (muscle activation) than squats in a Smith machine, leg press and leg extension.
  • The squat at moderate loads is a more effective method of activating the trunk stabilizers compared with other instability trunk exercises.
  • Muscle activation is not influenced by the use of a weight belt.

(The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(4):1169-1178, 2012)

Firefighters…The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests that fire administrators allocate time for firefighters to participate in fitness programs while on-duty? This strategy is encouraged to increase the likelihood that firefighters will participate regularly. Opponents to on-duty fitness programs are concerned that fatigue will hinder subsequent job performance that requires physical stress. Researchers found that even though the occupational efficiency of firefighters may decrease as a result of performing exercise while on duty, the benefits far outweigh the acute decrements in firefighter performance. Moreover, the study showed trained firefighters with exercise-induced fatigue performed better on a physical fitness test than 70 percent of untrained firefighters who were not fatigued prior to the test.

SOURCE: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(4):1101-1109, 2012

…there is considerable evidence some of the age-related risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is related to a decline in testosterone? It's common knowledge that a man's testosterone levels decrease as he ages. It is also common knowledge that age is a risk factor in CVD. However, most people, including most physicians, do not know the relationship between low test levels and CVD. Researchers have shown that men with CVD have significantly lower levels of androgenic hormones; however, it is still unclear the relationship between the two.

Researchers used 206 males from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging; their androgenic hormone levels were measured for 33 years. The study hypothesized that androgenic hormones prevent CVD by reducing arterial stiffness. An increase in arterial stiffness is recognized as an early risk factor for CVD. An increase in the stiffness of larger arteries leads to a rise in systolic blood pressure which causes left ventricular hypertrophy. Researchers found as testosterone declined with age, arterial stiffness increased.

SOURCE: Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. Sept. 2005.

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