Monday, December 27, 2010

Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe Exercise More Often for Depression, Anxiety, Research Suggests

Here at Jungle Miami we're sick of hearing about how doctors keeps prescribing pills for any little thing. We believe these doctors need to have their heads checked!

Mental Health Providers Should Prescribe Exercise More Often for Depression, Anxiety, Research Suggests

ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2010) — Exercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers, according to researchers who analyzed the results of numerous published studies.

"Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health," says Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be."

Smits and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston University, based their finding on an analysis of dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health, including the authors' meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise. The researchers' review demonstrated the efficacy of exercise programs in reducing depression and anxiety.

The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy don't reach everyone who needs them, says Smits, an associate professor of psychology.

"Exercise can fill the gap for people who can't receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don't want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments," he says. "Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged."

The researchers presented their findings March 6 in Baltimore at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. Their workshop was based on their therapist guide "Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders," with accompanying patient workbook (Oxford University Press, September 2009). For links to more information see

"Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger," Smits says. "Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing."

After patients have passed a health assessment, Smits says, they should work up to the public health dose, which is 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, he says, mental health care providers can serve as their patients' exercise guides and motivators.

"Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program -- which can be difficult to sustain -- we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits," he says. "After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy -- and you'll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise."

Smits says health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting featured in his guide for therapists.

"Therapists can help their patients take specific, achievable steps," he says. "This isn't about working out five times a week for the next year. It's about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today."

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Southern Methodist University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Study Shows Best Time To Workout To Burn Fat...Before Breakfast

Here at Jungle Miami, I'm about to embark on a three day journey where I'll gain five to ten pounds over Christmas weekend.  But, I've got the secret weapon to shield me against those unwanted inches.  See you in the morning!
Phys Ed: The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast

The holiday season brings many joys and, unfortunately, many countervailing dietary pitfalls. Even the fittest and most disciplined of us can succumb, indulging in more fat and calories than at any other time of the year. The health consequences, if the behavior is unchecked, can be swift and worrying. A recent study by scientists in Australia found that after only three days, an extremely high-fat, high-calorie diet can lead to increased blood sugar and insulin resistance, potentially increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Waistlines also can expand at this time of year, prompting self-recrimination and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions.

But a new study published in The Journal of Physiology suggests a more reliable and far simpler response. Run or bicycle before breakfast. Exercising in the morning, before eating, the study results show, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of holiday Bacchanalias.

For the study, researchers in Belgium recruited 28 healthy, active young men and began stuffing them with a truly lousy diet, composed of 50 percent fat and 30 percent more calories, overall, than the men had been consuming. Some of the men agreed not to exercise during the experiment. The rest were assigned to one of two exercise groups. The groups’ regimens were identical and exhausting. The men worked out four times a week in the mornings, running and cycling at a strenuous intensity. Two of the sessions lasted 90 minutes, the others, an hour. All of the workouts were supervised, so the energy expenditure of the two groups was identical.

Their early-morning routines, however, were not. One of the groups ate a hefty, carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising and continued to ingest carbohydrates, in the form of something like a sports drink, throughout their workouts. The second group worked out without eating first and drank only water during the training. They made up for their abstinence with breakfast later that morning, comparable in calories to the other group’s trencherman portions.

The experiment lasted for six weeks. At the end, the nonexercising group was, to no one’s surprise, super-sized, having packed on an average of more than six pounds. They had also developed insulin resistance — their muscles were no longer responding well to insulin and weren’t pulling sugar (or, more technically, glucose) out of the bloodstream efficiently — and they had begun storing extra fat within and between their muscle cells. Both insulin resistance and fat-marbled muscles are metabolically unhealthy conditions that can be precursors of diabetes.

The men who ate breakfast before exercising gained weight, too, although only about half as much as the control group. Like those sedentary big eaters, however, they had become more insulin-resistant and were storing a greater amount of fat in their muscles.

Only the group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the fat they were taking in more efficiently. “Our current data,” the study’s authors wrote, “indicate that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet.”

Just how exercising before breakfast blunts the deleterious effects of overindulging is not completely understood, although this study points toward several intriguing explanations. For one, as has been known for some time, exercising in a fasted state (usually possible only before breakfast), coaxes the body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during vigorous exercise, instead of relying primarily on carbohydrates. When you burn fat, you obviously don’t store it in your muscles. In “our study, only the fasted group demonstrated beneficial metabolic adaptations, which eventually may enhance oxidative fatty acid turnover,” said Peter Hespel, Ph.D., a professor in the Research Center for Exercise and Health at Catholic University Leuven in Belgium and senior author of the study.

At the same time, the fasting group showed increased levels of a muscle protein that “is responsible for insulin-stimulated glucose transport in muscle and thus plays a pivotal role in regulation of insulin sensitivity,” Dr Hespel said.

In other words, working out before breakfast directly combated the two most detrimental effects of eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet. It also helped the men avoid gaining weight.

There are caveats, of course. Exercising on an empty stomach is unlikely to improve your performance during that workout. Carbohydrates are easier for working muscles to access and burn for energy than fat, which is why athletes typically eat a high-carbohydrate diet. The researchers also don’t know whether the same benefits will accrue if you exercise at a more leisurely pace and for less time than in this study, although, according to Leonie Heilbronn, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, who has extensively studied the effects of high-fat diets and wrote a commentary about the Belgian study, “I would predict low intensity is better than nothing.”

So, unpleasant as the prospect may be, set your alarm after the next Christmas party to wake you early enough that you can run before sitting down to breakfast. “I would recommend this,” Dr. Heilbronn concluded, “as a way of combating Christmas” and those insidiously delectable cookies.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Strength Training Could Cure Our Ailing Healthcare System AND Make Us Smarter?

Here at Jungle Miami, we are always talking about the benefits of strength training and how EXERCISE IS MEDICINE. As a matter of fact, exercise is the best kind of medicine, preventative. But, it also seems that exercise can cure our healthcare dilemma, too!

Strength Training for Seniors Provides Cognitive Function, Economic Benefits

ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2010) — A one-year follow-up study on seniors who participated in a strength training exercise program shows sustained cognitive benefits as well as savings for the healthcare system. The research, conducted at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia, is published December 13 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study is the first to examine whether both cognitive and economic benefits are sustained after formal cessation of a tailored exercise program. It builds on the Brain Power Study, published in the January 2010 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, which demonstrated that 12 months of once-weekly or twice-weekly progressive strength training improved executive cognitive function in women aged 65- to 75- years- old. Executive cognitive functions are cognitive abilities necessary for independent living.

Both studies were led by Teresa Liu-Ambrose, principal investigator at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility and Brain Research Centre at Vancouver Coastal Health and UBC, and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at UBC's Faculty of Medicine. The one year follow-up study found the cognitive benefits of strength training persisted, and with two critical findings.

"We were very surprised to discover the group that sustained cognitive benefits was the once-weekly strength training group rather than the twice-weekly training group," says Liu-Ambrose, who's also a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research scholar. "What we realized was that this group was more successful at being able to maintain the same level of physical activity achieved in the original study."

In fact, the researchers found that while both the once-weekly strength training group and the control group -- which performed twice-weekly balancing and toning exercises -- were able to maintain higher levels of activity than when they first began the original study, individuals in the twice per week strength training group showed a reduction in physical activity. This reduction may be due community factors, both a lack of strength or weigh training programs tailored for older adults and the perception from seniors that they may need to undertake an activity program multiple times per week to receive any benefit.

The second important finding relates to the economic benefits of once-weekly strength training. Using the data from the Brain Power Study and the one-year follow-up study, health economists Jennifer Davis and Carlo Marra, research scientists with the Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at St. Paul's Hospital and UBC Faculty of Medicine, were able to show that the economic benefits of once-weekly strength training were sustained 12 months after its formal cessation. Specifically, the researchers found the once-weekly strength group incurred fewer health care resource utilization costs and had fewer falls than the twice-weekly balance and tone group.

"This suggests that once-weekly resistance training is cost saving, and the right type of exercise for seniors to achieve maximum economic and health benefits," says Davis.

Cognitive decline among seniors is a pressing health care issue and a key risk factor for falls. Approximately 30 per cent of B.C. seniors experience a fall each year and fall-related hip fractures account for more than 4,000 injures each year at a cost of $75 million to the healthcare system.

The number of seniors in B.C. is expected to increase by 220 per cent by 2031, representing 23.5 per cent of B.C. population. Effective strategies to prevent cognitive decline are essential to improving quality of life for older British Columbians and to save the healthcare system millions in associated costs.

Support for this research has been provided by a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Establishment Grant, the Vancouver Foundation, and infrastructure support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of British Columbia.

Journal Reference:
1.Jennifer C. Davis et al. Sustained Cognitive and Economic Benefits of Resistance Training Among Community- Dwelling Senior Women: A 1-Year Follow-up Study of the Brain Power Study. Arch Intern Med., 2010;170(22):2036-2038 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.462

Friday, December 10, 2010

The chilling news about Ice Therapy

As many of my colleagues have been doing  as well, we at Jungle recommend icing injuries for a period no longer than 10 minutes.

Today, we publish everything there is to know about ice therapy.

Cryotherapy - ice therapy - why you should apply ice for just 10 minutes

The next time you or one of your athletes inflame a knee joint, strain a muscle, or twist an ankle during a sporting activity, make certain that you ice the area correctly; inappropriate icing can sometimes make an injury worse rather than better.

'Many athletes spend 20 to 30 minutes continuously applying ice to an aching joint or throbbing muscle, but that can really be counterproductive,' states cryotherapy expert Dr Romain Meeusen of the Free University of Brussels. Meeusen's interest in the sometimes surprising effects of icing the human body began when he was growing up in the northern part of Belgium near Antwerp. As he played with snow as a child, lobbing snowballs into the grey waters of the river Schelde, Meeusen noticed that his bare hands were at first blanched and chilled by the snow but eventually turned bright red and warm, despite their continued contact with the ice-cold snow. The redness and warmness, of course, indicated that prolonged exposure to the icy snow had actually increased blood flow to his hands.

This seemingly strange reaction, in which ice or an application of cold actually increases the flow of blood to a region of the body, represents one reason why Meeusen is concerned about how ice is used therapeutically. After all, one of the goals of cryotherapy is to diminish the movement of blood to the site of an injury, so that there will be less chance of forming a sizeable haematoma (a swollen, painful area containing blood). Since ice can sometimes increase the amount of blood flooding into an injured part of the body, it must be used with caution.

Why it happens

But how can the application of ice enhance the passage of blood into a body region, when everything one's ever learned suggests that ice hampers blood flow? Basically, when body tissues are cooled, nerve cells in the chilled area initially force adjacent blood vessels to constrict, leading to a marked reduction in blood flow in that portion of the body. However, if the temperature of the affected area continues to drop, nerve activity is depressed and the blood vessels begin to open up again, bringing in an onslaught of blood which re-warms the tissues, even though cold is still being applied. Once the nerves heat up (because of the inflow of blood), they shut down the blood vessels again, commencing a new cycle of chilling and warming (like the blanching and then reddening of Meeusen's gloveless hands).

The somewhat surprising increase in blood flow to body parts during cryotherapy (or unprotected activity in cold environments) has been documented by a number of researchers. For example, a classic study on the effects of cold application found that blood flow decreased when body regions were subjected to moderate cooling but increased when colder temperatures were reached ('Hyperemia Following Sustained Contractions at Different Temperatures,' Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 137, p. 45P, 1957). Another investigation uncovered a large increase in muscular blood flow as tissue temperatures plummeted ('Vascular Reactions of the Human Forearm to Cold,' Clinical Science, Vol. 17, pp. 165-179, 1958). This flood-of-blood effect is the human body's attempt to thwart severe cold injury in a body part subjected to a chilling stress.

Limit ice applications to 10 minutes

If an injured area is compressed and elevated while it is being treated with ice, the potential increase in blood flow can be partially controlled, but Meeusen still believes it is important to strictly limit the time duration of an ice application in order to minimise the chances that a tidal flow of blood will sweep into an injured joint or muscle. Fairly brief applications of ice also diminish the risk of frostbite-like damage to superficial tissues which are in close contact with the ice. For these reasons, the Belgian researcher and physiotherapist suggests that ice applications should be limited to about 10 minutes or so.

Sceptics who contend that it takes longer than 10 minutes to adequately refrigerate an injured inner region of the body may scoff at the idea of applying ice to a damaged area for such a brief period, but Meeusen's research has turned up some interesting facts which support his contention. For one thing, Meeusen has found that when ice is applied to an injured part of the body for 10 minutes and then removed, the temperature of the skin in the affected area will begin to rise immediately after the ice removal, but the temperature of the muscles and other tissues beneath the skin will actually continue to drop for a few minutes, even though the ice has been taken away.

The continued drop in inner muscle temperature, even after the removal of the ice, occurs because the layer of fat found beneath the skin functions as an insulating material which keeps heat from moving inward to the muscle from the skin and outside world. In addition, the blood vessels leading to the damaged muscle stay constricted for a while in response to the icing (they haven't been chilled enough in 10 minutes for them to open up yet), leading to an actual continued decline in muscle temperature.

Enter the lymphatic vessels

Meeusen's careful research has uncovered another important fact: when ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period, nearby lymphatic vessels begin to dramatically increase their permeability (lymphatic vessels are 'dead-end' tubes which ordinarily help carry excess tissue fluids back into the cardiovascular system). As the lymphatic permeability is enhanced, large amounts of fluid begin to pour from the lymphatics 'in the wrong direction' (into the injured area), increasing the amount of local swelling and pressure and potentially contributing to greater pain ('The Use of Cryotherapy in Sports Injuries,' Sports Medicine, Vol. 3, pp. 398-414, 1986). If the icing goes on for too long, the lymphatic vessels can actually be nearly obliterated, losing all of their fluid to the surrounding tissues and thus failing to carry excess water away from the injured area (6th European Congress of Sports Medicine, Budapest, Hungary, p. 179, 17-20 June, 1991).

That's why Meeusen has settled on his 10-minutes-at-a-time icing recommendation. With the 10 minutes of ice-induced cooling and a couple of minutes of additional cooling (see above) that occur in a damaged muscle or joint after the ice has been removed, an injured athlete can get a nice chilling effect without running the risk of flushing the site of injury with blood and water or freezing some superficial skin and nerve cells to death.

'Instead of putting ice on an injured area for 20 to 25 minutes, three or four times a day, as many athletes do, it's better to ice the damaged region for 10 minutes immediately after the injury, remove the ice for about 30 minutes, and then reapply it for 10 additional minutes. Repeat this cycle of about two 10-minute icings per hour as often as possible during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. Then, use the same technique (two 10-minute icings separated by a 30-minute break) about three to five times a day until the injury resolves itself,' recommends Meeusen.

Be wary of refrigerant gels

What kind of ice therapy should be employed? 'Ice packs are very practical to use, and an ice massage will produce a rapid and profound cooling. Because of their potentially extreme temperatures (as low as minus 20 degrees Centigrade), refrigerant gels should be used with extreme caution: always place a towel between the gel and your skin,' suggests the Belgian researcher. 'Remember that the main effect of 'cooling' sprays is actually the easing of pain; they produce only a temporary chilling of the skin and do not lower the temperature of the deeper tissues,' says Meeusen.

Here's a tip concerning an easy and practical way to apply ice to an injury: simply fill a styrofoam cup with water, place it in the freezer section of your refrigerator, and remove the cup once the water has frozen solid. Peel away the styrofoam around the top of the cup, exposing a solid 'bulb' of pure ice. Massage the injured area of your body with this bulb for 10 minutes, as suggested by Meeusen, and then repeat the massage 30 minutes after the end of this first ice application. Continue in the manner recommended by Meeusen, replacing your styrofoam-cup cryotherapeutic device as often as needed.

Cryotherapy is not new: the famous Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) knew about the benefits of placing ice or snow on injured regions of the body. None the less, we are continuing to refine the manner in which ice is used therapeutically. Meeusen's research suggests that ice should be used often and for brief 10-minute intervals, rather than for more prolonged periods of time. It's a good recommendation. After all, overly long applications of ice can result in frostbite injury to the skin, nerve damage, and increased swelling and inflammation. The next time you injure yourself during your sporting activity (or even during every-day life), try Romain Meeusen's 10-minute ice applications, along with compression and elevation of the injured area, if possible. By using ice in this way, you won't chill your chances of a quick recovery.

Jim Bledsoe

Article's website.


What is the RICE Technique?

The R.I.C.E technique is the gold standard treatment of acute sporting injuries.The most important time in the treatment of acute sporting injuries is in the first 24-48 hours. When soft tissue damage occurs, for example, when a muscle tears, blood vessels rupture and the injury site begins to swell. This increase in blood volume in the area can cause cell death by what is known as secondary hypoxic injury. Thus, every effort should be made to control excessive bleeding.

The R.I.C.E technique involves all the components that are needed to prevent further injury to the damaged site immediately after the injury has been sustained. If applied correctly and in time the R.I.C.E technique can greatly reduce the recovery time of the athlete. In order to have a full understanding of the therapeutic mechanisms behind the R.I.C.E method, a knowledge of the body's intrinsic reaction to tissue damage, the inflammatory response, is needed. The letters R.I.C.E are abbreviations for:





Each component functions to help limit swelling and decrease pain of the injury.


Rest is the first line of action for any sporting injury. It does not only refer to a prolonged period of time following the injury but also relates to resting immediately from sporting activities. An athlete must know when to stop training -repetitive minor injuries can commonly result in a large scale injury that could have been prevented by adequate rest and treatment.

If an injury is sustained during sporting activity some athletes have a tendency to 'run it off'. This implies that with increased exercise the pain and injury will simply go away. In a lot of cases, nothing could be further from the truth. It may be possible that by continuing to exercise the athletes pain may seem less intense. This may be due to a number of factors. During exercise, nerve fibres that respond to mechanical signals such as touch can over-ride the impulses from the pain nerve fibres- a phenomenon known as the pain gate theory. In addition other factors such as the player's mentality can all play a part in over-riding the pain- however the tissue itself is still damaged and continued activity could cause serious further injury.


Ice therapy also known as cryotherapy is one of the most widely used treatment modalities used for acute sports injuries. It is cheap, easy to use and requires little time to prepare. The application of ice to an injury,in the acute phase can substantially decrease the extent of the damage. It achieves this in a number of different ways:

Decreases the amount of bleeding by vasoconstriction into the injury site and so lessens swelling

Reduces pain

Reduces muscle spasm

Reduces the risk of cell death by decreasing the rate of metabolism

Ice is usually applied to the injured site by means of a bag filled with crushed ice which is wrapped in a damp towel. The ice should be left in place for approximately 15-20 minutes. A more detailed overview on the correct use of ice therapy and the indications for its use are available on the application page.


Applying compression to a wound has the effect of preventing excessive swelling occurring and should be applied for about 24-48 hours from the onset of injury. Compression of the limb functions to increase the pressure within the tissue thus narrowing the blood vessels. This slows down the inflammatory process and so prevents excessive edema building up within the joint. This edema, when present, can severely affect the functional ability of the limb. Compression can be applied by a number of means.

The most effective of these is by using a compression bandage which is an elasticized tube-like bandage that simply fits around the affected limb. The advantages of the compression bandage are that it is easy to apply and the elastic provides the sufficient pressure needed to stop some od the bleeding in the area.

Alternatively a regular bandage can be applied to the area however care should be taken not to over-tighten the bandage as this will contribute to tissue death. If the peripheral limbs become discoloured or become cold then it is possible that the bandage is too tight. Bandaging should begin below the injured site with each layer overlapping the underlying layer.

Compression can also be applied with the ice-pack itself, either manually or by wrapping the ice pack in bandage.


Elevation of the injured limb allows gravity to draw the fluid away from the injured site. This aids in decreasing the swelling and so can decrease pain associated with this edema. In lower limb injuries try and keep the ankle above the level of the hip. Upper limb injuries can be elevated by use of pillow or sling. The injured limb should be elevated for as long as possible throughout the day for the first 48 hours.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Empowerment of martial arts good for all ages

At Jungle we firmly believe Martial Arts are great for everyone. This is the subject of today's post.

Empowerment of martial arts good for all ages

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Record


It was intended simply as a one-time supportive gesture. Frank Giglio's son was starting a new martial arts school, so his father went to a class on the first day.

Phil Nizza, 59, takes to the mat with Damien Amores, 31, at Tiger Schulmann's Mixed Martial Arts in Paramus. "I put on a uniform and came to give him a $100 bill to stick on the wall and to say 'Good luck,' " says Giglio of his initial trip to his son Frank's Hawthorne Institute of Martial Arts (HIMA).

Six years later, Frank the father was a black belt. Fifteen years in, now 65 years old, he is still going, taking classes with kids nearly 50 years younger than he is.

And he's not the only area man who could tuck an AARP card into his black belt.

About seven years ago, Phil Nizza's teenage son wanted to start karate, so the Ridgewood resident started looking into it. At a Tiger Schulmann's Mixed Martial Arts school in Paramus they suggested he try a class himself.

"I really got hooked," says Nizza, now 59 and a black belt.

All over the area, men and women in their 40s, 50s and 60s are taking — and teaching — martial arts classes.

"People feel that the number limits them," says Richard Faustini of Faustini's Institute of Martial Arts and Fitness in Oradell. "There's only one thing we can't control — our chronological number. A lot of things we can control, like how we feel. I'm 60 years old and I'm still moving."

Let's be clear. We're not talking about the cage here or getting into a ring. That is an aspect of mixed martial arts to be sure, but that's almost exclusively for young men.

But this isn't poses and meditation. This is a contact sport. It involves sparring and grappling and even when punches are pulled, the intensity gets pretty high, especially at the black belt levels, no matter the age of the participant.

The generation gap disappears on the mat. Respect is a large part of any martial arts program, but there is no going easy on the elders when skills are equal. And the older guys sometimes seek out the kids to spar.

"I generally like the 16 to 21-year-olds because they're strong enough to make it worthwhile," says Nizza.

While all schools say they have their own specific approach, there is one unifying theme. Mixed martial arts is empowering. Confidence comes with getting in shape and learning self-defense. This can fundamentally change people.

"If someone offered me a million dollars for my black belt, I wouldn't sell it," says 42-year-old Frank Giglio — fifth-degree black belt, HIMA owner, Hawthorne police officer and instructor at the Passaic County Police Academy. "If it meant giving back the confidence, discipline, focus, respect and self-defense, I would never give that back. It made me what I am today."

For kids, classes in mixed martial arts can draw out the overly passive and reign in the aggressive. For adults, there is the added benefit of stress release to the great physical workout that doesn't require a 20-year-old's body. Classes and movements can be modified for chronic injuries without losing the benefits.

Forty-year-olds taking classes at HIMA say they have lost their age-related aches and pains, sleep better, have improved stamina and endurance on top of knowing if the need to defend themselves or their family arises, they can.

Nizza says mixed martial arts is one of the only workouts he can do, as he tries to avoid the repetitive motions of running, biking or certain exercise classes that bore him or aggravate his knees.

And at 15, 50 or 65, mixed martial arts students are in pretty darn good shape, too.

"It's such a great all-around workout," says Nizza. "I can't think of anything better, having done everything there is out there."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Article's Website

Friday, December 3, 2010

Exercise often enough for Achilles injury recovery

At Jungle, we are always hearing  some story about some type of injury. Through out our lives we will all get injuries of one type or another.  This piece of news touches the subject of Aquilles tendon injuries, which are very common. We bring you this post today for we thought, we can all benefit from it. Enjoy it.

Exercise often enough for Achilles injury recovery

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Most people with inflammation of the Achilles tendon, a common overuse injury, can recover with the help of exercise therapy alone, a small study suggests.

A full recovery might take time, as tendons are often slow to heal, researchers say, but sticking with exercise could help people avoid more invasive treatments like drug injections into the joint or even surgery.

The study found that among 34 patients who had exercise therapy for so-called Achilles tendinopathy for three to six months, 80 percent fully recovered with no further treatment -- though some developed new symptoms over the next several years.

Another seven patients (20 percent) continued to have pain or other symptoms, but for three, the symptoms were minimal, and only one sought a different form of treatment.

Achilles tendinopathy, also sometimes called Achilles tendinitis, refers to an injury in the band of tissue connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is one of the more common sports-related overuse injuries, estimated to account for about one in 10 running injuries.

Exercise therapy is known to be effective for Achilles tendinopathy, particularly so-called eccentric exercises where the calf muscles contract while being lengthened; an example would be rising onto the balls of the feet, then slowly lowering the heels back to the ground.

But it is not clear exactly how long patients can, or should, stick with exercise before moving on to more invasive treatments.

.A common recommendation is for people with Achilles tendinopathy to try exercise therapy for three months, and if they have not recovered at that point, to consider other options.

That is a fairly arbitrary recommendation, however, based on studies that have chosen that window of treatment time. In real life, three months may be too short a time for a full recovery, explained Karin Gravare Silbernagel, a physical therapist and the lead researcher on the new study.

It's known that injured tendons need "mechanical loading" -- that is, exercise -- to heal, said Silbernagel, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and the University of Delaware in Newark.

"But we also know that a tendon can take a year to heal," she told Reuters Health.

If exercise therapy is given time, according to Silbernagel, many people with Achilles tendinopathy will do well. What's more, they need not give up being active in their daily lives during that potentially lengthy recovery, she noted.

The patients in the current study were all originally part of a clinical trial looking at the effects of three to six months of exercise therapy for Achilles tendinopathy. In that trial, half were told that they could continue their usual physical activities during their rehab, while the other half were told to rest for the first six weeks of therapy.

One year later, both groups were showing similar improvements in pain and functional ability -- suggesting that people with Achilles tendinopathy can stay active in their day-to-day lives during therapy, as long as they monitor their symptoms and cut back on exercise if necessary.

The current study, published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, was a five-year follow-up of that original patient group. At the five-year mark, 65 percent had no symptoms from their initial injury, while 15 percent (five patients) had fully recovered but eventually developed new Achilles symptoms. Only one person in that latter group sought treatment, in the form of further exercise therapy.

"I think the bottom line is that exercise is a treatment that can provide a full recovery," Silbernagel said.

And longer duration exercise therapy need not mean six months of sessions with a physical therapist, she said. Instead, people can learn exercises to perform on their own at home, and if needed, see their physical therapist for follow-ups.

Silbernagel and her colleagues also found that patients' "fear of movement" was related to their long-term recovery of functional ability -- as measured by a heel-rise test. Those with a greater level of anxiety about exercising causing pain or raising the risk of an Achilles tendon rupture tended to show less recovery of their muscular endurance.

According to Silbernagel, this suggests that reassuring patients that exercise is a key part of recovery from Achilles tendinopathy might ultimately lead to better treatment outcomes.

Short of surgery, other treatment options for Achilles tendinopathy include standard painkillers, injections of medications like aprotinin (a substance derived from cow lungs that may inhibit an enzyme that breaks down collagen), and injections of platelet-rich plasma, which involves infusing a person's own blood plasma into the injured joint to promote healing.

But whether any of those therapies are truly effective remains unclear. A clinical trial published earlier this year found that platelet-rich plasma, used in addition to eccentric exercises, offered no additional benefit to patients with Achilles tendinopathy.


American Journal of Sports Medicine

November 17, 2010


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kids and Weight Training. The benefits.

November 24, 2010

There is a notion out there that weight training in kids can harm them.  We at Jungle have found this interesting article on the subject. Hope you enjoy it and please, feel free to let us know you opinion. It matters.

The Benefits of Weight Training for Children


Back in the 1970s, researchers in Japan studied child laborers and discovered that, among their many misfortunes, the juvenile workers tended to be abnormally short. Physical labor, the researchers concluded, with its hours of lifting and moving heavy weights, had stunted the children’s growth. Somewhat improbably, from that scientific finding and other similar reports, as well as from anecdotes and accreting myth, many people came to believe “that children and adolescents should not” practice weight training, said Avery Faigenbaum, a professor of exercise science at the College of New Jersey. That idea retains a sturdy hold in the popular imagination. As a recent position paper on the topic of children and resistance training points out, many parents, coaches and pediatricians remain convinced that weight training by children will “result in short stature, epiphyseal plate” — or growth plate — “damage, lack of strength increases due to a lack of testosterone and a variety of safety issues.”

Kids, in other words, many of us believe, won’t get stronger by lifting weights and will probably hurt themselves. But a major new review just published in Pediatrics, together with a growing body of other scientific reports, suggest that, in fact, weight training can be not only safe for young people, it can also be beneficial, even essential.

In the Pediatrics review, researchers with the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany, analyzed 60 years’ worth of studies of children and weightlifting. The studies covered boys and girls from age 6 to 18. The researchers found that, almost without exception, children and adolescents benefited from weight training. They grew stronger. Older children, particularly teenagers, tended to add more strength than younger ones, as would be expected, but the difference was not enormous. Over all, strength gains were “linear,” the researchers found. They didn’t spike wildly after puberty for boys or girls, even though boys at that age are awash in testosterone, the sex hormone known to increase muscle mass in adults. That was something of a surprise. On the other hand, a reliable if predictable factor was consistency. Young people of any age who participated in resistance training at least twice a week for a month or more showed greater strength gains than those who worked out only once a week or for shorter periods.

Over all, the researchers concluded, “regardless of maturational age, children generally seem to be capable of increasing muscular strength.”

.That finding, which busts one of the most pervasive myths about resistance training for young people — that they won’t actually get stronger — is in accord with the results and opinions of most researchers who have studied the subject. “We’ve worked with kindergartners, having them just use balloons and dowels” as strength training tools, “and found that they developed strength increases,” said Dr. Faigenbaum, a widely acknowledged expert on the topic of youth strength training. (His most recent book is in fact titled “Youth Strength Training.”)

But interestingly, young people do not generally add muscular power in quite the same way as adults. They rarely pack on bulk. Adults, particularly men but also women, typically add muscle mass when they start weight training, a process known as muscular hypertrophy (or, less technically, getting buff). Youths do not add as much or sometimes any obvious muscle mass as a result of strength training, which is one of the reasons many people thought they did not grow stronger. Their strength gains seem generally to involve “neurological” changes, Dr. Faigenbaum said. Their nervous systems and muscles start interacting more efficiently. A few small studies have shown that children develop a significant increase in motor-unit activation within their muscles after weight training. A motor unit consists of a single neuron and all of the muscle cells that it controls. When more motor units fire, a muscle contracts more efficiently. So, in essence, strength training in children seems to liberate the innate strength of the muscle, to activate the power that has been in abeyance, unused.

And that fact, from both a physiological and philosophical standpoint, is perhaps why strength training for children is so important, a growing chorus of experts says. “We are urban dwellers stuck in hunter-gatherer bodies,” said Lyle Micheli, M.D., the director of sports medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston and professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard University, as well as a co-author, with Dr. Faigenbaum, of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2009 position paper about children and resistance training. “That’s true for children as well as adults. There was a time when children ‘weight trained’ by carrying milk pails and helping around the farm. Now few children, even young athletes, get sufficient activity” to fully strengthen their muscles, tendons and other tissues. “If a kid sits in class or in front of a screen for hours and then you throw them out onto the soccer field or basketball court, they don’t have the tissue strength to withstand the forces involved in their sports. That can contribute to injury.”

Consequently, many experts say, by strength training, young athletes can reduce their risk of injury, not the reverse. “The scientific literature is quite clear that strength training is safe for young people, if it’s properly supervised,” Dr. Faigenbaum says. “It will not stunt growth or lead to growth-plate injuries. That doesn’t mean young people should be allowed to go down into the basement and lift Dad’s weights by themselves. That’s when you see accidents.” The most common, he added, involve injuries to the hands and feet. “Unsupervised kids drop weights on their toes or pinch their fingers in the machines,” he said.

In fact, the ideal weight-training program for many children need not involve weights at all. “The body doesn’t know the difference between a weight machine, a medicine ball, an elastic band and your own body weight,” Dr. Faigenbaum said. In his own work with local schools, he often leads physical-education class warm-ups that involve passing a medicine ball (usually a “1 kilogram ball for elementary-school-age children” and heavier ones for teenagers) or holding a broomstick to teach lunges safely. He has the kids hop, skip and leap on one leg. They do some push-ups, perhaps one-handed on a medicine ball for older kids. (For specifics about creating strength-training programs for young athletes of various ages, including teenagers, and avoiding injury, visit, a Web site set up by Dr. Faigenbaum, or the Children’s Hospital Boston sports medicine site.)

As for the ideal age to start weight training, Dr. Faigenbaum said: “Any age is a good age. But there does seem to be something special about the time from about age 7 to 12. The nervous system is very plastic. The kids are very eager. It seems to be an ideal time to hard-wire strength gains and movement patterns.” And if you structure a program right, he added, “it can be so much fun that it never occurs to the kids that they’re getting quote-unquote ‘strength training’ at all.”


article's website.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lifelong Exercising Yields Sensational Results

Everyday we learn about the importance of exercising. This study reflects just that. Exercising has to become a way of life if we really want to rip the rewards of it.  Here is Jungle Miami's blog today. Enjoy it and let us know what you think. We appreciate it.

Senior active skiers have twice the oxygen-uptake capacity of seniors who do not exercise. This is shown in new research at Mid Sweden University.

"The findings show that humans have a great potential to maintain a high level of physical work capacity and thereby better quality of life even at advanced ages," says Per Tesch, professor of sports science.

A year ago Mid Sweden University and the Karolinska Institute launched a study of seniors who are still active skiers. The study attracted a great deal of attention in the media in connection with testing and experiments in Ă–stersund. Some of Sweden's skiing icons, now more than 90 years old, took part.

Now the results of the study are being presented. They show that the maximum capacity for oxygen uptake is twice as great among active senior men compared with men who do not exercise. The results for the active seniors are comparable to values for men who are 40-50 years younger but do not exercise to improve their stamina. Analyses of muscle samples at the molecular and cell level reveal a profile similar to what is found in younger men.

"The high values for maximum oxygen-uptake capacity that we have measured have never been reported before in a population of men of advanced age," says Per Tesch.

The findings from the study will be presented at the American College of Sports Medicine: Integrative Physiology of Exercise in Miami Beach this week.

The study is part of a larger collaborative project co-directed by physiologist Per Tesch, professor of sports science at Mid Sweden University and Scott Trappe, professor of sports physiology at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA. The ultimate purpose of the project is to study how musculature, the circulatory apparatus, and performance are affected by lifelong exercising well into senior years.


ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010)

Article's Website


Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Is that right?

Here at Jungle, we always say loosing weight is about caloric balance,  calories in and calories out. Well, this piece we publish today reafirms it. Enjoy it in the company of a good Little Debbie. :)

Snack-filled diet yields 27-lb. weight loss

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

It's the calories, dummy.

You may have read recently about the Kansas State University nutrition professor who lost 27 pounds while eating a diet rich in... Little Debbies. Mark Haub reportedly went from 201 pounds to 174 pounds over two months; his meals were centered around packaged snacks, sweet and savory, such as can be bought in convenience stores. He augmented those snacks with canned green beans and celery sticks. He also took a multivitamin and drank a protein shake daily.

Haub's experience adds a new element to the ongoing question in nutrition circles: Should we focus on certain food groups, such as proteins or carbs, as keys to managing our weight, or in the end is losing pounds simply a matter of consuming fewer calories than you expend. Haub's weight loss seems to support the latter: Without changing his level of physical activity, he cut back from something like 2,600 to 1,800 calories a day.

Twinkies were one of the foods Haub ate in his snack diet test. (AP)On top of that, Haub says other markers of health such as his levels of good and bad cholesterol and triglycerides have improved as he's lost weight. You can read more about his experiment on the Facebook page he set up.

Of course, Haub's short experiment doesn't shed light on the long-term effects of eating a diet filled with convenience-food staples. But to my mind it takes some of the angst and mystery out of the whole weight-loss equation. Eat less and you'll lose weight. Period.

What do you make of Haub's weight-loss experience? Are you likely to try a similar regimen yourself? (Or are you already on one?



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recovering from high-intensity athletics

Here at Jungle it's no secret, we train hard. We continually suggest ways to recover from training.  Today we found this interesting article on the subject. Enjoy it and hopefully it will serve you well. If you have any thoughts about this subject or any other subject, please feel free to share your opinions with us.

Recovering From High-Intensity Athletics
By Lenny Bernstein
The Washington Post
November 9, 2010 

Most of us are pretty conscientious about preparing for an upcoming competition, special athletic event or particularly grueling training session. We build our stamina. We hydrate. We take on extra fuel. We get a little extra rest.

But how much attention do you pay to the hours and days after you finish that century ride, alumni soccer game or 20-mile training run? Do you collapse on the couch, spent, and indulge in a double cheeseburger with fries to celebrate your achievement and the extra calories you burned?

Experts and top athletes know that the energy and focus you put into your recovery will go a long way toward determining not only how you feel for the next few days, but how well you perform the next time. (Assuming there is a next time.) And that effort helps prevent injury.

"If you don't recover, you wind up getting into overuse syndromes" and suffering injuries such as stress fractures, says Karen Merrill, a master trainer for the American Council on Exercise  who recommends at least 10 minutes of stretching after a good workout.

While this knowledge has slowly seeped down to the rest of us - Gatorade now markets "before," "during" and "after" sports drinks - it's not as ingrained as pre-event regimens. And how to go about it is somewhat more confusing.

I learned this the hard way (seems like the only way for me) after I ran my first marathon in 2005. My wife and I scheduled a walking tour of New Orleans for the next morning. In theory I was doing the right thing: keeping those legs moving, gently, is the best way to recover from 26.2 miles of pounding. But I didn't know anything about post-race care and soon was having trouble walking down stairs on stiff quads and swollen feet. (I also ate a great post-race bacon cheeseburger. Which I don't regret.)

Here are a few things you might consider after your next tough outing.

Active recovery

You're exhausted, you're proud, you've earned a few hours with your feet up and the ballgame on. Don't do it. At least not right away. That burning in your legs while you were working so hard came from lactate, a byproduct of exercise. You want to keep your blood circulating well so your body can get rid of it as efficiently as possible, and you want to keep those tired muscles limber.

Distance runners, from high school on up, take cool-down runs right after competition. You should do something, too. Take a walk, do some yoga, slowly pedal an exercise bike. And by all means, stretch as much as you can as part of the cool-down.

Under no circumstances "should anyone just stop," says Lynn Millar, a professor of physical therapy at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. Although conventional wisdom calls for stretching muscles while they're warm, Millar has found that some people need an additional, gentle stretching session later.

"It may be more important to do some of that stretching three hours later," she says. "That may help better at preventing that tightness or lack of range of motion."

In a small 2008 study of women rock climbers, French and Belgian researchers found that active recovery - in this case, pedaling a stationary bike - removed lactate more quickly than other methods and led to better performance when the women went back onto the climbing wall 20 minutes later.

Ice baths

Nothing feels better on sore muscles after a tough workout than a hot shower or, if you have access to one, a steaming whirlpool. Haven't we seen pro athletes doing this for years? Unfortunately, it may be the wrong way to go. It seems wherever you go now, someone is touting the benefits of an ice bath or, more technically, cold-water immersion.

It seems intuitive that cold would reduce the inflammation in overworked legs. Distance runners swear by the practice; they've been standing in buckets of icy water after races and workouts for years. An ice bath "constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown," top ultra-marathoner Nikki Kimball wrote in Runner's World in 2008. (For ultra-wusses like me, Kimball notes that she wears a down jacket, a hat and neoprene booties and drinks hot tea during her 20 minutes in a 50- to 59-degree tub.)

This idea is not universally accepted, however. Kenneth L. Knight, a professor of athletic training at Brigham Young University who has spent his career studying cryotherapy for athletes, says there is no research to support or refute the effect of ice baths on inflammation, even if so many say it feels so good.

"There's no evidence that it's not good, but there's no evidence to support it, either," Knight says. "It's just out there."

In that 2008 study of rock climbers, cold-water immersion was the other method that researchers found helped maintain performance. (Passive recovery and electric stimulation were the ones that didn't pan out as well.)

Chocolate milk?

I don't have the space here to help you navigate the river of commercial post-workout beverages or foods that make similar claims about aiding recovery. I did check into one of the latest fads, chocolate milk, because so many people seem to be drinking it after workouts. Turns out it makes sense.

Nancy Clark, a registered dietitian and author of "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook," says chocolate milk provides fluid, carbohydrates (sugar) to replenish your body's supply, protein to promote muscle healing and the sodium that you've sweated away. Plus, it gives you that sated feeling that other products may not. A small University of Connecticut study found that fat-free chocolate milk seems to protect muscles better than a carbohydrate recovery drink.

For noncompetitive athletes, Clark says, there are myriad ways to take in the same essentials in the 24 to 48 hours after a workout, from protein shakes to the small, low-fat meals you should be eating anyway.

In most instances, "the body will take care of it on its own" by signaling what it needs, she says. "Your job is to make sure there's food around."

Article's Website


Monday, November 8, 2010

Positively Think Your Way to Health!

It's a little twilight zone, but, positive thoughts can be the difference between being a couch potato or fit and healthy.  Here at Jungle Miami we try and make our workouts fun every time because we know if it's fun, you'll do it.  We'll here's some scientific evidence that proves the more you like whatever form of exercise you do, the more you'll get out of it.

No Sweat! Positive Thoughts Help Exercisers Stick With It

When you haul yourself out of bed to jog around the park, do you curse the dark mornings and think about your aches and pains? Or do you slip into the sunrise and feel good about cranking your body into gear? Although researchers know that half of all folks who take up exercise quit during the first six months, they have failed to ask how people's thoughts and feelings during workouts affect their decision to drop out.

Wanting to look at how people interpret the exercise experience itself, Joanne Kraenzle Schneider, Ph.D., R.N., questioned 364 women over 55 after they finished exercising. She found that those who believed in the health benefits of working out tended to exercise more often, more intensely or for longer periods than those with negative beliefs. Those who concentrated on their bodily movements reported exercising less often, less intensely or for shorter periods of time than those who didn't. "It appears that if you can interpret your experience positively, you will want to exercise more," Schneider says.

Schneider is a postdoctoral research fellow in medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Her paper, which appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Gerontology, is based on a doctoral dissertation she wrote at the University of Kansas School of Nursing in Kansas City. An award from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) supported the study.
Focus on older women
Schneider studies women because most previous exercise maintenance research has focused on men. She works with older people because they're a fast-growing group of health-care consumers in the United States. "Little is known about exercise maintenance in this population, though regular physical exercise may reduce their health-care costs to society," she says.
Scouring shopping malls and senior centers in Kansas City and Wichita, Kan., Schneider found 364 women between the ages of 55 and 90 who attended an exercise session of their choice. She gave each woman several questionnaires to complete after the exercise session was over.
One set of questionnaires measured exercise behavior -- the number of times the women had exercised during a seven-day period, how hard they had worked and for how long. Another instrument probed the women's beliefs about exercise -- improved well-being, reduced tension or improved disposition, for example. A questionnaire that Schneider designed with input from a previous study asked each woman about her sensations, thoughts and feelings during the actual exercise session. The questions revealed the women's feelings of well-being, how intensely they concentrated on the movements they were making, the intensity of their sweating, their muscle and joint discomfort and the sights and sounds they enjoyed. "This type of episode-specific information was missing from previous studies," Schneider says.

When Schneider analyzed the responses, she found that three factors accounted for differences in exercise behavior in this group of women. The first was a well-known factor, age -- the older people get, the less likely they are to stick to a regular exercise routine. Second, those who believed in the physical or psychological benefits of exercise were those who exercised more often, more intensely or for longer periods, the data showed. Most importantly, the responses revealed that women who concentrated on their bodily movements during the exercise session were those who exercised less often, less intensely or for shorter periods.

This third factor may be important because women who focus on what they're doing are likely to concentrate on their internal sensations. Or they may become so involved in what they're doing that their exercise intensity drops. Schneider will examine these different explanations in her next study.

Attitude change is possible

While it isn't feasible to change a person's age, it might be possible to change negative thoughts into positive ones, Schneider suggests. "In contrast to experiences outside the actual exercise episodes, episode-specific interpretations are more immediate than general interpretations and therefore are accessible to change," she concludes. "So they're a prime target for interventions."

In a recent pilot study at Washington University, Schneider tried to restructure the thoughts of five volunteers. Each woman picked an aspect of exercising she hated, such as sweating, and was taught to think positive thoughts about it instead. Schneider used the encouraging results in an application for a future grant from the NINR to conduct a larger five-year study.

As part of her postdoctoral research, which also is funded by NINR, Schneider is examining episode-specific interpretations over a nine-month period and across different types of exercise in people who are 78 years or older. She also is taking her findings to heart because she has a tough time working out. "I'm telling myself that exercise is healthy and is improving my endurance and physical fitness instead of thinking that it doesn't feel good," she says.



The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Washington University In St. Louis.

Washington University In St. Louis (1997, December 24). No Sweat! Positive Thoughts Help Exercisers Stick With It. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 8, 2010,

ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 1997)


Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yogurt - The story.

Pills, pills, pills.  You don't feel so well?  Take a pill.  You've got a cough, a migraine, or not enough energy?  Take a pill.  Your sex life is not so good?  Here, take a pill.  You've got high cholesterol?  How about this pill here!  It makes me wonder, what did we used to do before there were pills, besides die younger?

Enter The Yogurt...

Not only is yogurt a wonderful quick, easy and nutritious snack that is available year-round, but researchers are finding evidence that milk and yogurt may actually add years to your life as is found in some countries where yogurt and other fermented dairy products (like kefir) are a dietary staple.

Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk, which causes the transformation of the milk's sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yogurt its refreshingly tart flavor and unique pudding-like texture, a quality that is reflected in its original Turkish name, Yoghurmak, which means "to thicken."

As a general rule, we favor low-fat dairy products rather than products made from whole milk although we understand that there are individuals for whom whole milk dairy products may appropriate. For a detailed report on this topic, please read our report on the subject.

Our food ranking system qualified yogurt as a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2 and iodine. Yogurt also emerged from our analysis as a good source of vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum. These 10 nutrients alone would make yogurt a health-supportive food. But some of the most interesting health information about yogurt comes from a different context-its potential inclusion of live bacteria.

Yogurt for A Longer Life

The highest quality yogurt in your grocery store contains live bacteria that provides a host of health benefits. Yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures may help you to live longer, and may fortify your immune system. Research studies have shown that increased yogurt consumption, particularly in immunocompromised populations such as the elderly, may enhance the immune response, which would in turn increase resistance to immune-related diseases.

One research study tracked a population of 162 very elderly people for five years. The incidence of death for those subjects who ate yogurt and milk more than three times per week was 38% lower than the incidence of death those subjects who ate yogurt and other dairy foods less than once a week. (Consuming citrus fruit twice a week and a lowered consumption of meat were also associated with decreased incidence of death).

Eating yogurt may help to prevent vaginal yeast infections. In one study, women who had frequent yeast infections ate 8 ounces of yogurt daily for 6 months. Researchers reported that a threefold decrease in infections was seen in these women.

Yogurt Boosts Immune Response

Lactobacillus casei, a strain of friendly bacteria found in cultured foods like yogurt and kefir, significantly improved the immune response and ability to fight off pneumonia in an animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
After their 21-day protein-free diet, laboratory animals were fed a balanced conventional diet with or without supplemental lactobacillus casei for 7, 14 or 21 days, then challenged with S. pneumoniae. In all groups of animals given lactobacillus casei, normalization of the immune response and recovery occurred much more quickly than in controls, who received only the balanced conventional diet. Controls took 21 days to regain a normal immune response, but test animals fed the friendly bacteria recovered normal immunity in just 7 days! In addition, malnourished mice receiving lactobacillus casei were able to more effectively clear the pneumonia pathogen from their blood and had significantly less lung damage than controls.

A human study has confirmed that a daily serving of probiotic-rich yogurt bolsters your body's ability to protect you from infection.

Daily consumption of yogurt- both conventional, commercially available yogurt and probiotic yogurt (yogurt containing health-promoting bacteria)-stimulated cellular immunity in a study involving 33 healthy women aged 22-29 years.

Cellular immunity-our immune system's first line of defense-involves special white cells (typically T cell lymphocytes and neutrophils), which serve as our body's primary means of protection against infection by viruses, yeasts, and parasites. In addition, cellular immunity is also critical in preventing the development of cancer.

In this study, (Meyer AL, Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism), the women were divided into two groups. For the first 2 weeks, they consumed either 3 ounces (100 g) each day of a conventional yogurt or 3 ounces daily of a yogurt containing added probiotics (health-promoting bacteria).

For the following 2 weeks, the women consumed 6 ounces (200 g) daily of either the conventional or the probiotic yogurt. This was followed by a 2 week washout period in which no yogurt or other fermented foods were consumed.

Study participants' white blood cells were checked both at the beginning of the study and after each phase. Results found a significant (30.8 to 32.7%) increase in the numbers of T lymphocytes among women consuming the probiotic yogurt, and a significant increase in the expression of CD69 on T lymphocytes among subjects consuming both probiotic and conventional yogurts. (CD69 is one of the first cell surface molecules expressed on lymphocytes after they are called into action. Once expressed, CD69 promotes the production and activation of more lymphocytes. So, the increase in CD69 indicates an increase in immune system defense capability.)

In addition, not only did the ability of immune cells to effectively kill pathogens increased following intake of the yogurt, but this effect persisted in the washout period after the women had stopped their daily yogurt consumption. These results suggest that enjoying a daily cup of yogurt-either conventional or probiotic-may boost immune function.

Yogurt Lowers LDL, Raises HDL Cholesterol

Daily consumption of 3 ounces (100 g) of probiotic yogurt (yogurt containing health-promoting bacteria) significantly improved the cholesterol profile, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol, in women volunteers.

In this study, (Fabian E, Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism), one group of 17 women consumed 3 ounces (100 g) a day of probiotic yogurt, while a second group of 16 women were given 3 ounces of conventional yogurt daily for 2 weeks. Then both groups were given 6 ounces (200 g) of the type of yogurt they had been consuming for 2 more weeks. The study ended with a final 2 weeks during which both groups of women ate no yogurt.

In the women consuming probiotic yogurt, not only did levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol decrease significantly, but their HDL (good) cholesterol substantially increased. Women consuming conventional yogurt also experienced a significant drop in LDL cholesterol, although their HDL did not rise.

The take-home message: adding a daily cup of yogurt-preferably a yogurt with probiotic bacteria-to your healthy way of eating is an easy and delicious way to improve your cholesterol profile.

Here are just a few ways to enjoy yogurt:

Top your daily cup of yogurt with a quarter-cup of granola, a handful of nuts, and some frozen berries or dried fruit for a quick, delicious and sustaining breakfast.
Creamy yogurt, chives, and freshly ground sea salt and pepper make a great topping for baked potatoes, yams or other cooked vegetables.
For a creamy salad dressing or vegetable dip, just mix a cup of yogurt with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices.

Lower Body Fat Linked to Consumption of Calcium-Rich Foods

A prospective study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association gives parents yet another reason to consider regularly including low-fat dairy products such as yogurt in their children's healthy way of eating, given the rate at which childhood obesity is rising in the West: consumption of calcium-rich foods was found to be negatively correlated with body fat.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., with the number of overweight children more than doubling in the last three decades, and the International Obesity Task Force recently reported that in the UK, childhood obesity is already three times higher than it was just over 10 years ago.

In this prospective longitudinal study, researchers at the University of Tennessee assessed the height, weight and dietary intake of 52 children (girls and boys), starting when the children were 2 months of age and following them for 8 years. Dietary calcium and polyunsaturated fat intake were negatively related to percent of body fat, while total dietary fat or saturated fat intake and amount of sedentary activity (hours/day) were positively correlated.

Earlier studies have also reported a negative association between calcium intake and body fat accumulation during childhood and between calcium intake and body weight at midlife. Each 300 mg increment in regular calcium intake has been consistently associated with approximately 1 kg less body fat in children and 2.5-3.0 kg lower body weight in adults. Taken together these data suggest that increasing calcium intake by the equivalent of two dairy servings per day could reduce the risk of overweight substantially, perhaps by as much as 70 percent. The current study's lead author, Dr. Jean Skinner, advised that children should be encouraged to regularly eat calcium-rich foods, such as low fat milk and yoghurt and to increase physical activity. In addition, Dr. Skinner recommended that carbonated soft drinks and other nutrient-poor beverages be restricted since children's intake of carbonated beverages and other sweetened drinks was found to be negatively related to their calcium intake.

Another study published in Obesity Research suggests that calcium's weight loss benefits extend to adults as well. If you're tyring to lose weight, especially around the midsection, eating more calcium-rich foods, especially low fat dairy foods such as cow's milk, yogurt and kefir, may really help.

In this study, 41 obese subjects, 32 of whom completed the study, were divided into three groups and put on diets designed to result in the loss of one pound per week for 24 weeks. All diets contained the same number of calories and were designed to provide subjects with a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day.

The first group received a low (430 mg/day) calcium diet. The second group got the same diet with enough supplemental calcium to bring their daily intake up to 1200 mg. And the third group ate a diet with enough dairy foods to provide about 1100 mg calcium each day. At the conclusion of the study, the low calcium group had lost almost 15 pounds, the high calcium group 19 pounds, and the high dairy foods group 24 pounds. Plus, fat lost from the midsection represented an average of 19% of total fat loss in those on the low calcium diet, 50% of the fat lost in those on the high calcium diet, and 66% of the fat lost in those getting their calcium from dairy foods.

Yogurt, Specifically, Significantly Increases Fat Loss

In just 3 months, 16 obese men and women on a reduced calorie diet that included three daily portions of yogurt lost 61% more fat and 81% more abdominal fat than 18 obese subjects assigned to a diet with the same number of calories but little or no dairy products and low amounts of calcium.

Not only did those in the yogurt group lose more fat, especially around their waistlines, but they also retained more lean, muscle tissue than subjects on the yoghurt-free diet.

How yogurt promotes fat loss while preserving muscle is still a matter of debate. It may be due to the fact that calcium reduces fat cells' ability to store fat, so cells burn more, and less is produced in the liver. Or, it may be due to the branched chain amino acids present in dairy products. Regardless, this study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, indicates that adding one or two servings of yogurt to your daily diet can help you maximize loss of fat and minimize loss of muscle-the optimal outcome for any diet.

Calcium-rich Dairy Foods Boost the Body's Fat Burning After a Meal

Yet another study suggests those ads linking a daily cup of yogurt to a slimmer silhouette have a real basis in scientific fact. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition not only confirms earlier studies showing a calcium-rich diet is associated with fat loss, but may help explain why.

Normal-weight women ranging in age from 18-30 years were randomly assigned to a low (less than 800 mg per day) or high (1000-1400 mg per day) calcium diet for 1 year, and the rate at which their bodies burned fat after a meal was assessed at the beginning and end of the study.

After 1 year, fat oxidation (burning) was 20 times higher in women eating the high calcium diet compared to those in the low-calcium control group (0.10 vs. 0.06 gram per minute).

The women's blood levels of parathyroid hormone were also checked and were found to correlate with their rate of fat oxidation. (The primary function of parathyroid hormone is to maintain normal levels of calcium in the body. When calcium levels drop too low, parathyroid hormone is secreted to instruct bone cells to release calcium into the bloodstream.)

Higher blood levels of parathyroid hormone were associated with a lower rate of fat oxidation and lower dietary calcium intake, while lower blood levels of parathyroid hormone levels were seen in the women consuming a diet high in calcium, who were burning fat more rapidly after a meal. So, it appears that a high-calcium diet increases fat oxidation, at least in part, by lessening the need for parathyroid hormone secretion, thus keeping blood levels of the hormone low.

Boost the Body's Ability to Build Bone

It's not just its calcium that makes yogurt a bone-friendly food, cow's milk and fermented milk products such as yogurt and kefir also contain lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein that boosts the growth and activity of osteoblasts (the cells that build bone).

Not only does lactoferrin increase osteoblast differentiation, it also reduces the rate at which these cells die by up to 50-70%, and decreases the formation of osteoclasts (the cells responsible for breaking down bone) thus helping to prevent or reverse osteoporosis. In addition, lactoferrin also increases the proliferation of chondocytes, the cells that build cartilage. For building bone, enjoying both milk and yogurt seems a good idea since lactoferrin's effects were found to be dose-dependent, stimulating an up to a 5-fold increase in osteoblasts at higher doses.

Dairy Foods Better than Calcium Supplements for Growing Girls' Bones

For young girls going through the rapid growth spurts of puberty, getting calcium from dairy products, such as yogurt, may be better for building bone than taking a calcium supplement, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Finnish researchers enrolled 195 healthy girls aged 10-12 years and divided them into 4 groups. One group was given supplemental calcium (1000 mg) + vitamin D3 (200 IU) each day. The second group received only supplemental calcium (1000 mg/day). The third group ate cheese supplying 1,000 mg of calcium each day, and the fourth group was given a placebo supplement.

At the beginning and end of the study, DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans were run to check bone indexes of the hip, spine, and whole body, and the radius and tibia were checked by peripheral quantitative computed tomography.

At the conclusion of the study, girls getting their calcium from cheese had higher whole-body bone mineral density and cortical thickness of the tibia than girls given supplemental calcium + vitamin D, supplemental calcium alone, or placebo. While the researchers noted that differences in the rate at which different children naturally grow might account for some of the differences seen in bone mineral density, they concluded: "Increasing calcium intake by consuming cheese appears to be more beneficial for cortical bone mass accrual than the consumption of tablets containing a similar amount of calcium."

Help Prevent and Heal Arthritis

Lactobacillus, a probiotic (friendly) bacteria found in yogurt offers "remarkable preventive and curative" effects on arthritis, say Israeli researchers in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Because lactobacillus has already demonstrated beneficial effects in other inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disorders, researchers thought it might also lessen the inflammation of arthritis. To find out, they ran two groups of animal experiments.

In both sets of experiments, laboratory animals fed the yogurt with large amounts of lactobacilli had the least amount of arthritic inflammation, while those fed plain yogurt experienced only moderate inflammation. The animals that received just lactobacillus, even heat-killed lactobacillus, also showed significant benefit. Milk, however, had no effect. So impressed were the researchers with the study's results that they recommended trials using commercial yogurts containing lactobacilli in arthritic patients.

Protection against Ulcers

Helicobater pylori the bacterium responsible for most ulcers, can be shut down by yogurt, suggests a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this study, for six weeks, 48 adult volunteers infected with H. pylori ate yogurt containing the probiotic bacteria Lactobaciullus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis twice daily after a meal, while 11 others received a milk placebo. After eight weeks, subjects were given the C-urea breath test, which measures the amount of urease, an enzyme used by H.pylori to allow it to penetrate and infect the stomach lining. In those receiving the yogurt containing probiotics, H.pylori activity was effectively suppressed.
Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Although we've focused on the benefits of low-fat yogurt, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that enjoying full-fat yogurt and other full-fat dairy foods, such as whole milk, kefir, cheese, cream, sour cream and butter, may significantly reduce risk for colorectal cancer.

Although high in saturated fat, these dairy foods contain a number of potentially cancer-preventive factors, including a protective fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has also been shown to be cardioprotective.

In this study, over 60,000 women aged 40-76 years were followed during an average of 14.8 years. Those women who ate at least 4 servings of high-fat dairy foods each day were found to have a 41% lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to women eating less than a serving of high-fat dairy foods daily.

For each increment of 2 servings of high-fat dairy foods a woman consumed each day, her risk of colorectal cancer dropped 13%. So, while research continues to indicate that it is wise to limit your intake of saturated fat by cutting back on servings of high-fat meats, enjoying full-fat versions of yogurt and other dairy products may actually be protective.

For Fresh Breath and a Healthy Mouth, Eat Yogurt

Consuming just 3.2 ounces (90 grams) of yogurt twice a day not only lowers levels of hydrogen sulfide and other volatile sulfide compounds responsible for bad breath, but may also eliminate tongue-coating bacteria and reduce dental plaque formation, cavities, and risk for gingivitis. The sugar-free yogurt eaten by 24 volunteers in this 6-week study was fermented with two strains of probiotic (friendly) bacteria: streptococci and lactobacilli.

Be careful when selecting yogurt and choose yogurts that contain live cultures-highest quality prodcts will often indicate exactly how many live bacteria are contained in the product. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermopholis are the lactic acid bacteria usually used to make yogurt in the United States.


Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made by adding bacterial cultures to milk, which causes the transformation of the milk's sugar, lactose, into lactic acid. This process gives yogurt its refreshingly tart flavor and unique pudding-like texture, a quality that is reflected in its original Turkish name, Yoghurmak, which means "to thicken". The lactic acid bacteria that are traditionally used to make yogurt-Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus-also confer on yogurt many of its health benefits.

Yogurt is available in a variety of different flavors, although plain yogurt is the simplest, most wholesome and versatile. Certain varieties of yogurts also feature a fruit mixture strewn throughout.


While it is unclear when and where yogurt was developed, fermented dairy products were probably consumed for thousands and thousands of years, ever since the beginning of the domestication of cows. One of the first records of yogurt consumption comes from the Middle East during the times of the Conqueror Genghis Khan in the 13th century, whose armies were sustained by this healthful food. Yogurt and other fermented dairy products have long been a staple in the diets of cultures of the Middle East, Asia, Russia and Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria. Yet, the recognition of yogurt's special health benefits did not become apparent in Western Europe and North America until the 20th century, as a result of research done by Dr. Elie Metchnikoff. Dr. Metchnikoff conducted research on the health benefits of lactic acid-producing bacteria and postulated that the longevity of peoples of certain cultures, such as the Bulgarians, was related to their high consumption of yogurt and fermented dairy products.

Today, yogurt plays an important role in many different world cuisines including Turkey, Greece, India, and countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia.

How to Select and Store

Some yogurt manufacturers pasteurize their yogurt products, while others do not. Although the aim of pasteurization is to kill any harmful bacteria, it also kills the beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the yogurt, substantially reducing its health benefits. Therefore, to fully enjoy the benefits of yogurt, look for those that feature "live active cultures" or "living yogurt cultures" on the label.

Check the expiration date on the side of the yogurt container to make sure that it is still fresh. Avoid yogurts that have artificial colors, flavorings or sweeteners. Additionally, while fruit-filled yogurt can be a delicious treat, be aware that oftentimes these yogurt products contain excess sugar.

Look for yogurt made from organic milk. It is becoming more widely available in an array of sizes, flavors and varieties.

Store yogurt in the refrigerator in its original container. If unopened, it will stay fresh for about one week past the expiration date.

How to Enjoy:

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Toss cubes of cooked eggplant with plain yogurt, chopped mint leaves, garlic and cayenne.

Add chopped cucumber and dill weed to plain yogurt. Eat this delicious and cooling salad as is or use as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or lamb.

Yogurt parfaits are a visual as well as delicious treat. In a large wine glass, alternate layers of yogurt and your favorite fruits.

Yogurt is a great base for salad dressings. Simply place plain yogurt in the blender with enough water to achieve your desired consistency. Add to this your favorite herbs and spices.

Mix cold cereal or granola with yogurt for a twist on the traditional cereal and milk breakfast.


Allergic Reactions to Cow's Milk Products

Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others. It's important to realize that the frequency of problems varies from country to country and can change significantly along with changes in the food supply or with other manufacturing practices. For example, in several part of the world, including Canada, Japan, and Israel, sesame seed allergy has risen to a level of major concern over the past 10 years.

In the United States, beginning in 2004 with the passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), food labels have been required to identify the presence of any major food allergens. Since 90% of food allergies in the U.S. have been associated with 8 food types as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it is these 8 food types that are considered to be major food allergens in the U.S. and require identification on food labels. The 8 food types classified as major allergens are as follows: (1) wheat, (2) cow's milk, (3) hen's eggs, (4) fish, (5) crustacean shellfish (including shrimp, prawns, lobster and crab); (6) tree nuts (including cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts); (7) peanuts; and (8) soy foods.

These foods do not need to be eaten in their pure, isolated form in order to trigger an adverse reaction. For example, yogurt made from cow's milk is also a common allergenic food, even though the cow's milk has been processed and fermented in order to make the yogurt. Ice cream made from cow's milk would be an equally good example.

Food allergy symptoms may sometimes be immediate and specific, and can include skin rash, hives, itching, and eczema; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; tingling in the mouth; wheezing or nasal congestion; trouble breathing; and dizziness or lightheadedness. But food allergy symptoms may also be much more general and delayed, and can include fatigue, depression, chronic headache, chronic bowel problems (such as diarrhea or constipation), and insomnia. Because most food allergy symptoms can be caused by a variety of other health problems, it is good practice to seek the help of a healthcare provider when evaluating the role of food allergies in your health.

Yogurt and rBGH

Cows may be treated with a compound called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Canada has banned the use of this hormone in cows, based on research from Canadian scientists. Their report on rBGH noted that cows injected with the growth hormone reportedly have a 25 percent increase in risk of mastitis, an 18 percent increase in the risk of infertility, and a 50 percent increase in the risk of lameness. Another independent Canadian scientific committee found there was no direct risk to human health. Several U.S. groups have opposed the use of the hormone. One concern is that cows with mastitis are treated with antibiotics. The best way to ensure that you buy milk that has not been treated with rBGH is to buy organic dairy products.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System.
Yogurt, low-fat
1.00 cup
245.00 grams
155.05 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%) Nutrient
Density World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
iodine 87.22 mcg 58.1 6.8 very good
calcium 447.37 mg 44.7 5.2 very good
phosphorus 351.58 mg 35.2 4.1 very good
vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.52 mg 30.6 3.6 very good
protein 12.86 g 25.7 3.0 good
vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 1.38 mcg 23.0 2.7 good
tryptophan 0.06 g 18.8 2.2 good
potassium 572.81 mg 16.4 1.9 good
molybdenum 11.27 mcg 15.0 1.7 good
zinc 2.18 mg 14.5 1.7 good
vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 1.45 mg 14.5 1.7 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%


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Recipes for Health

Yogurt: Not Just for Breakfast


There has been considerable controversy this year over whether certain brands of bacteria-laden yogurt really help aid digestive health, but don’t let the hullabaloo sour you on yogurt. It’s a bona fide superfood, and live bacterial cultures are what make it unique.

If they survive the pasteurization process, you should find the bacteria -- usually Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria -- listed on the container among the ingredients, right after milk. Both types have long reputations as probiotics, bacteria that are beneficial to the intestinal tract and immune system. Beyond that, yogurt is a terrific source of protein and calcium. Many people who are otherwise lactose-intolerant can digest it.

Still, health isn’t the reason that yogurt is a staple of cuisines in the Caucasus, Balkans, Mediterranean and India. Yogurt is wonderful to cook with, much more than a breakfast food, and this week’s recipes will showcase a variety of dishes made with it.

Look for plain, minimally processed brands with no added gums, stabilizers or sweeteners. I prefer low-fat to nonfat, which can be watery and sour, and may contain fewer fat-soluble vitamins.

Drained Yogurt

Drained of much of its water content, yogurt becomes a thick, creamy product known in the Middle East as labna or labne. Drained yogurt is like a moist, fresh, tangy cheese, and it makes a great spread or dip. In Turkey and in the Middle East, a number of dips and salad dressings are based on drained yogurt combined with pureed garlic and chopped fresh herbs. Drained yogurt can be mixed with chopped cucumbers for salads or with chopped dried apricots for a sweet and tangy dip.

2 cups low-fat yogurt

Line a strainer with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Place the yogurt in the strainer, and refrigerate for at least two hours (preferably four hours or longer). Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate again. Serve as a spread, dip, or topping for rice, or use as the base for a salad dressing.

Variations: Mix in any of the following:

1 to 2 plump garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed, and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar and pestle

1 to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh peppermint or dill (or other fresh herbs of your choice)

1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1/2 teaspoon or more ground toasted cumin seeds, curry powder or other spices

Yield: 1 cup

Advance preparation: Drained yogurt will last as long as the regular kind, so check the sell-by date on the container. The yogurt will continue to give up water, which you should simply pour away.

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