BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: diet (Page 2 of 2)

Pull-Ups, Biology, and Our Sexist Society

Men and women are different, right? Guys have more testosterone, which leads to greater muscle mass, facial hair, deeper voice, and greater height. Women have more estrogen, which leads to the development of characteristics like wider hips, and breast development. Having less testosterone means it is harder to gain strength, but not impossible. Anyone can, with the proper training regimen  increase their strength, regardless of sex. This, however, goes against what New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope writes in her article Why Women Can’t Do Pull-Ups. In it, she cites a study in which

 Three days a week for three months, the women focused on exercises that would strengthen the biceps and the latissimus dorsi — the large back muscle that is activated during the exercise. They lifted weights and used an incline to practice a modified pull-up, raising themselves up to a bar, over and over, in hopes of strengthening the muscles they would use to perform the real thing. They also focused on aerobic training to lower body fat.

According to the study, only four of the seventeen women were able to do one pull-up at the end of the study. I, along with several hundreds of people who have posted angry comments on this article, have several issues with this study, and with the title of the article.

First, they focused on exercises that would strengthen the biceps and latissimus dorsi. My question is, what about the deltoids and trapezius muscles, and the core muscles in the abdomen, and grip strength? All of these come into play to some extent in a pull-up.

Second, I know from personal experience that using an incline to work your way up to pull-ups, often called a supine row, does not work.  I tried this for months and still could not do a pull-up. What did work was jumping over the bar and lower myself slowly (this is called negatives), and using resistance bands to hold whatever weight I could not support while doing a full pull-up. Now, I can do pull-ups. And, when you really think about it, a supine row uses the same muscles but the movement is in no way similar, so it doesn’t make sense to see it as a “toned-down” pull-up for beginners.

Taken by Amber Karnes
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambernussbaum/4472515271/
2010 CrossFit Games; Women did pull-ups with a 14 lb vest.

Third, how in shape were these women? This was not made clear in the article, and obviously, even after six months to a year, a morbidly obese woman may not be able to do a pull-up.  I think the issue with the study and the article comes down to two things: bad journalism and bad science.  When a 17 year old AP Biology student is able to poke a bunch of holes in your argument and find a bunch of flaws in your experimental procedure, the competence of the individuals involved comes into serious question.

So, readers, can YOU do a pull-up? Do you know any females that can do pull-ups? And, if you were to run the experiment, what would you do differently?

Comment!

Original Article:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/why-women-cant-do-pull-ups/

 

Additional Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supine_row

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pull-up_(exercise)#Muscles_used

 

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambernussbaum/4472515271/

Spring Allergies?

Photo Credit Flickr user: spakattacks

I don’t know about you but, I tend to have very severe environmental allergies in the spring. And spring is right around the corner! These allergies are often called hay fever. I came across an article that sheds light on some things one might be doing to aggravate spring allergies.

I found it very surprising that one of the things that can aggravate your allergy suffering is “noshing of fruits and veggies.” One of my favorite snacks is strawberries, but could this cause me more suffering during my allergy season? Many people who have seasonal allergies also suffer from pollen food allergy syndrome (also known as oral allergy syndrome). About 70 percent of people with birch tree allergies and about one in five people with grass allergies suffer from this condition. (my odds are pretty high).

You  might be wondering how you can tell if you have allergies or just a common cold. Here is an article that has more information on how to determine if you are sick with a cold or have allergies.

Now that I may have to stop snacking on fruit so much, I researched meals to help fight allergies. I also researched just some foods in general that will help with spring allergies, cause I most likely won’t have time to cook all those meals. Who knows maybe these foods could actually make a difference!

The best advice is not to procrastinate and start taking medicine before your symptoms will appear. There are many over the counter allergy medicines, but your allergist or doctor could always prescribe something stronger if necessary. Some experts are predicting spring of 2012 could be one of the worst allergy seasons in ten years due to the warmer temperatures in January. This increase in temperature has caused plants to begin blooming ahead of time. So I better stock up on some yogurt and fish!

 

S U G A R !

Mmm, sugar, so yummy…

Dr. David Katz, the director at the Yale Prevention Research Center writes of the negative effects of sugar in our lives in his article “Medicine, Museums, and Spoons Full of Sugar.” It’s a fact: kids and adults are eating way too much sugar, and this excess is known to contribute to the obesity epidemic.  Obesity itself causes other complications like diabetes and other diseases.

We’ve always known that having too much sugar is a bad thing, but how does it all add up? Soda like Coke, Sprite and Fanta are regarded by some public health experts as “liquid candy.”  Soda adds tons of calories and sugar to a typical diet.  So there you have it: soda is one of the many guilty culprits in the add up of sugar.

Taken by Yasmin Kibria

That’s only part of the problem–most of the excess sugar actually comes from foods.  “A how much is too much? According to Dr. Andrew Weil, everyone has a different response to sugar.  For some it triggers modd swings, brings on a sugar rush followed by a crash, and for some, there are no noticeable effects.  Sugar tends to drive obesity, high blood pressure, and Type II diabetes in people who are genetically programmed to develop insulin resistance.

How does too much sugar lead to obesity? According to Dr. Robert Lustig, sugar causes more insulin resistance in the liver than does other foods.  The pancreas then has to release more insulin to satisfy the liver’s needs.  High insulin levels obstruct the brain from receiving signals form leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells.

The Importance of a Teenage Balanced Diet

 

Photo Credit Flickr User: Writing Program PTW

 

We all have heard someone in our life say: “what you do and how you act now will affect you in the years to come.” The teenage years set the foundation for the rest of your life. The choices you make on a daily basis affect you in later years. One of those daily choices is what you eat, and this choice is more important in your teenage years than you think.

A recent study sheds light on the importance of specifically iron intake in your teen years. Iron has more of an influence on ones brain than most would think. Professor Paul Thompson measured levels of transferrin in adolescents and discovered the “transferrin levels were related to detectable differences in both the brain’s macro-structure and micro-structure when the adolescents reached young adulthood.” Iron and the proteins that transport iron are critical for brain function.

After reading this article one problem I found is too little iron can result in cognitive problems but too much iron promotes neurodegenerative diseases.  So what is the right amount of iron intake? This article talks about iron intake and how much you should be incorporating in your diet everyday. Since both a deficiency and an excess of iron can have a negative impact that makes the body’s regulation of iron transport even more crucial.

A shocking aspect of this research was as it states in the article about the test subjects: “we were looking at people who were young and healthy — none of them would be considered iron-deficient.” The young individuals who were part of this study were not even iron-deficient! Yet still the research showed that healthy brain wiring in adults depends on iron levels in your teenage years.

Is it too late to start incorporating iron in your diet as an adult? Ofcourse not! You may be wondering how you can incorporate more iron in your diet. Iron can be taken in as a vitamin and found in many foods. As a healthy teenager you may not be always thinking about the things you eat but another thing people always say is: “you should have a balanced diet” and they are correct!

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