A fascinating article in a recent issue of Outside magazine chronicles the insidious nature of fat. It’s not just an inert blob inside your body; visceral fat, the kind that forms around our aging midsections, produces a range of proteins, at least one of which has been linked to cancer, and is associated with diabetes, heart disease and accelerated aging. Nasty stuff, indeed.
Scientists view fat as a single endocrine gland, according to the article, that exerts wide-ranging control over the body – often fighting against muscle. “For a typical North American, their fat tissue is their biggest organ,” says James Kirkland, M.D., director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging at the Mayo Clinic.
Just as fat was long thought to be neutral, muscle was considered a passive organ that did what the brain told it to do. But muscle is now known to be one of the most dynamic systems in the body; when it contracts, it undergoes huge changes at the cellular level. And its mortal enemy is fat.
In sedentary people (even those who aren’t obese), fat works its way between muscle fibers “like the marbling in Wagyu beef,” according to the article. “Worse, fat infiltrates individual muscle cells in the form of lipid droplets that make the cells sluggish. According to Gerald Shulman, M.D., a prominent diabetes researcher at Yale, these pools of fat, which occur in both the liver and the muscles, block a key step in the conversion of glucose, leading to the insulin resistance that’s a prerequisite for diabetes.”
This is the reason some people of normal weight, but who lead sedentary lives, are still at risk for diabetes. “It’s not how much fat we have but how it’s distributed,” Shulman says. “When the fat builds up where it doesn’t belong, in the muscle and liver cells, that’s what leads to Type 2 diabetes.”
Its role in fostering disease aside, fat effectively crowds out muscle in the body; the more fat, the less muscle. And the less muscle, the fewer mitochondria. These are the powerhouses of cells, and they’re most plentiful in muscle tissue. Most fat contains almost no mitochondria. This goes to explain why it is that the fatter a person gets, the more difficult it becomes to burn off the extra fat; they lack sufficient energy-producing mitochondria.
“There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that healthy muscle may lead to a healthier liver, a healthier gut, a healthier pancreas, and a healthier brain,” says Nathan LeBrasseur, a Mayo Clinic scientist who specializes in muscle tissue.
Click to read the full Outside article on the insidious nature of fat.
I read a recent story by the traffic columnist in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (it’s a testament to your city’s traffic if the daily newspaper has such a columnist!) citing a study showing that hands-free texting applications for cars were actually MORE distracting than texting the old-fashioned way!
Is it any wonder, then, that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its first set of voluntary guidelines "that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk connected to electronic devices?”
According to an MSN.com article, “the guidelines recommend that automakers develop infotainment systems that limit the time drivers have to take their eyes off the road to two seconds for each input (for, say, finding an address using a navigation system) and 12 seconds to perform an overall task (such as inputting a destination and routing to it).
“The new guidelines recommend disabling specific operations unless the vehicle is stationary and shifted into park. These include manual entry of data for text messaging and Internet browsing and the display of text for Web pages and social media content. They also discourage playing video ‘and communications like video phoning or video conferencing.’ Of course, many automakers already limit these -- and more, such as certain navigation functions -- while a car is in motion.”
The article cites some sobering statistics about the overall distraction risk inherent in certain mobile phone-related uses (texting, Internet surfing, checking email), as well as the declining (yet still quite high) percentage of drivers age 18 to 29 who regularly perform such tasks while driving. Click to read the full MSN.com article.
Another story on auto tech caught my eye for a different reason: it specifically aims to increase cycling safety by enabling London truck drivers to receive both visual and audible warnings alerting them of intersections and stretches of road with heavy bicycle traffic.
Navevo, a satellite navigation company, is working with Transport for London (TLC) to produce Navevo’s ProNav HGV Cyclist Alert software, which it dubs the first of its kind in the world.
The software uses traffic data for the London road system from TLC and the Department of Transport “to map out areas where cyclists and lorries are most likely to encounter one another in the London area,” according to a Gizmag article.
“When a HGV driver approaches one of these high-cyclist traffic areas, an audible and visual alert appears in the form of a warning symbol as well as a 50-meter (164-ft) ‘warning zone’ circle around the area on the map.” According to Navevo, there are currently 100 high-cyclist-traffic areas currently mapped on its software.
“A navigation system is something a driver is likely to be listening to as they approach a junction and so it makes perfect sense to also alert the driver of the risk of cyclists, reminding them to be observant and drive safely,” said Navevo CEO Nick Caesari. “The safety of drivers, cyclists and other users of the road is a concern for everybody and we are proud to lead the navigation industry by launching this “world first” safety feature, which we believe could significantly contribute in improving road safety and reducing the number of incidents involving HGVs and cyclists.”
Let’s hope this is one piece of auto tech that actually finds widespread use.
I know this for a fact. At age 45, after a bike crash left me with a separated shoulder (the mildest separation on the diagnosis scale), osteoarthritis made quick work of it in effectively destroying my acromioclavicular (AC) joint.
A recent ArthritisToday.org article labels that particular type of osteoarthritis as Post-traumatic OA. The numbers are not good for us aging folk who suffer injuries along the way: “Researchers have determined that 10 to 20 years after traumatic injury to the knee – such as an ACL or meniscus tear – about 50 percent of patients will develop OA.”
And “12 percent of end-stage OA [with little or no cartilage left, severe joint pain and loss of function] in the hip, knee and ankle is due to injury,” notes Joseph Buckwalter, MD, professor and head of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.
Understanding this and the other various distinct OA subtypes – called phenotypes – aids in earlier diagnosis and better therapies for individual phenotypes, according to the article, which also discusses the roles of obesity and age in OA.
Age isn’t the only risk factor in OA, but it is the greatest risk factor. “Aging does not directly cause OA, or everyone would have it at a certain age, but 50 percent of people older than 65 do have it,” the article says. “Genes, prior injury or other factors increase the risk, and aging itself contributes to the development of OA because of the changes that occur to the joint over time, says Richard Loeser Jr., MD, program director of both the Translational Science Institute and the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“There are other factors involved in actually causing it, such as obesity, joint injury and genetics,” he says. “The [aging-related] changes in the joint contribute to its development.”
Click to read the complete ArthritisToday.org article.
Premium Member Russ Starke wrote to ask us if we had any insight into how to find better some "Garmin 800 for dummies"-type resources for him and other users stymied by what he described as “lousy documentation and arcane settings” when trying to map and use courses on the 800. “By the number of articles and discussions online, I am not alone,” Russ said.
So I reached out to Rob Kortus, who wrote our review of the Garmin 800. Rob, whose company makes our great JerseyBin waterproof cycling wallets, is an avid cyclist who loves his 800. He sent us a few links to resources that we’re passing along as a service to any other readers who may be flummoxed by the 800.
Here you go:
Of course, if you have other suggestions, feel free to share them with fellow RBR readers on the Community Comments page.
We’ve added three new videos from saddle expert Joshua Cohen to our site: a 2-part video on saddle pain (causes, how to deal with it, and how to avoid it); and seat comfort for cyclists (focusing on the interplay of anatomy and saddle design, with clear descriptions – using skeletal props – that show how different positions on the bike affect comfort, blood flow, etc.)
These videos can be found in our Health & Nutrition section on the website: http://www.roadbikerider.com/health-nutrition (in the left-side navigation under Health & Nutrition Videos).
Don’t forget that we also have a great series of Riding Skills Videos on the site at: http://www.roadbikerider.com/riding-skills
The biggest news might be the physical meltdown of the defending champion, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), who lost 20 minutes on the first big mountain stage and appeared physically spent and struggling for answers afterward.
"I'm obviously disappointed for yesterday and the stage before that. Clearly something is not right but I'm trying to move through it and see what happens day by day," he said. "I want to honor the race, honor race number one, my team, the fans and all my supporters."
Struggling, too, is defending Tour champion Bradley Wiggins, whose stated goal of winning the Giro-Tour double is on the ropes. He’s sitting 4th, 2:05 back, after losing time on the final climb of Stage 10.
Meanwhile, his Sky mate Rigoberto Uran, is one spot and one second ahead of Wiggins after winning the stage. Cadel Evans (BMC) looks to have perhaps regained his Tour-winning form and sits in 2nd, 41 seconds back of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who has held the maglia rosa for the past three stages.
Tour of California
Peter Sagan(Cannondale) continued his winning ways, taking Stage 3 in a group sprint for the 9th TOC stage win of his young career.
In the GC, Janier Alexis Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) holds the top spot after the Columbian climber stormed to a Stage 2 win on the final tough climb of the day. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is well-positioned in 2nd, at 12 seconds back, with Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) 27 seconds in arrears in 3rd.
The finishing stages Saturday and Sunday should be especially fun (and beautiful) to watch, as the penultimate Stage 7 features a 500m, 17% final stretch up the aptly named Mt. Diablo, while the finale features a crossing of the Golden Gate bridge and sojourn up the coast past Muir Beach, Stinson Beach and Point Reyes National Seashore.
June 15: Jackson County Brevet
This ride, which meanders through some lovely countryside near Braselton, Georgia, benefits Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (AA&MDS). Aplastic Anemia is a very rare and very deadly bone marrow disease that receives almost no funding for research, and the treatment has not changed in 25 years.
RBR is supporting the ride for the 2nd consecutive year. John will be joining in the ride, so look for him if you’re there.