Go OutsideBeginner's Guide to Nutrition: Pop Quiz

Beginner’s Guide to Nutrition: Pop Quiz

True or False?
Massage speeds recovery.
False..and true. There’s debate within the massage therapist industry as to whether or not sports massage flushes lactic acid from the body, a process that would speed up recovery, but there’s one thing that can’t be debated: a massage feels good.

massage-health quiz_FIX copy“Massage is tough because you can’t do a case study about its health benefits,” says Paula Marzella, a sports massage therapist who works largely with professional cycling teams, most recently with the BMC Pro Cycling Team. “The looser the muscles, the better the performance.”

Some coaches are even starting to employ regular massage sessions and at-home self massage techniques to enhance mobility in their athletes, in an attempt to increase performance and guard against injury.

“A tight group of muscles with no flexibility is an injury waiting to happen,” Marzella says.

Don’t fret if you can’t afford a regular session with a pro massage therapist.

“Stretching is free, and it will be your fastest way to recovery,” Marzella says. Also, look into the foam roller, which athletes use for self massage at home.

“A light spin for 20 minutes on a roller is the next best thing to a massage,” Marzella says.

True or False?
Everyone should cut gluten from their diet.
False. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that is linked to celiac disease, an autoimmune deficiency that interferes with the absorption of nutrients, leading to fatigue, depression, weight loss, even seizures. Only 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease, the most severe form of gluten intolerance, but 15 to 25 percent of us are buying gluten-free foods, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. Many gluten-free converts claim their new diet simply makes them feel better. Though the severity of gluten intolerance varies, researchers claim it’s likely that many Americans feel better after switching to a gluten-free diet because they decrease the amount of fast and processed foods they eat. By default, a gluten-free diet relies heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables.

True or False?
Pickle Juice helps ease muscle cramps.
True. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 25 percent of trainers use 2 ounces of pickle juice to relieve cramps. Anecdotal evidence shows pickle juice can relieve leg cramps in under a minute. How? The high salt content in the juice. According to a University of Oklahoma study, the most common cause of muscle cramps in athletes is a lack of salt due to heavy sweating.


The Sun God
According to a 2009 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 75 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient, a scenario that can lead to weakened muscles and bones in adults and rickets in children. Experts hypothesize the rampant D deficiencies stem from our culture’s hyper-awareness of skin cancer. But we might be doing more damage than good by slathering sunscreen on to walk to the car and back. It’s been well documented that D helps fight depression, but the vitamin also helps you maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood. New studies are even linking D deficiencies to a higher rate of heart attacks and strokes.

Whether we like it or not, UV rays from the sun are our primary source for D. A glass of fortified milk will have 100 International Units of D, whereas exposure to one minute of sun will garner 1,000 IUs. There’s currently no recommended daily allowance for vitamin D, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has recently stated children should get 400 IUs of D a day. As a general guideline, doctors recommend 10 minutes of sun exposure a day to battle any D deficiencies. Don’t want to risk the sunburn? Eat sardines. They pack 200 IUs of D per half cup.

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