By Coach Kathleen
For thousands of years we have been comforted with “chicken soup” when we are feeling under the weather. It turns out there is more behind chicken soup than simply warming our souls. Traditionally made chicken, beef, lamb, fish, or vegetable broth (to name a few) is made from boiling bones, tendons, ligaments and other parts of the animal that we wouldn’t eat. The finished product, now referred to as “bone broth” is packed with essential nutrients that can greatly impact our health in a positive way.
The method of boiling down bones and other animal parts extracts nutrients into the water. Bone broths are rich in collagen, the most abundant protein in our bodies. They also contain gut-healing amino acids like glutamine which can repair intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut”. Proline, glycine and arginine are other amino acids found in high concentration in bone broth. They help boost our immune system, prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, stimulate the production and release of growth hormone, and can help regenerate and repair cartilage and heal joints. Bone broth also contains glucosamine, another powerful joint supporting nutrients, as well as abundant amounts of minerals and electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Bone broth is extremely easy to make, the hardest part in our culture is finding a place that carries bones and other parts of pastured animals. Finding these parts usually requires asking the butcher what he has hiding in the back room, as they are less readily found in the front shelves or freezer. Once our bones are sourced, there are a variety of ways to make a tasty, versatile broth. The base of most broths consists of bones, fat, meat, vegetables and water. Apple cider vinegar is also added to help extract more nutrients from the bones. Bones with meat should be cooked, while other bones and ingredients can be added raw. Add all ingredients to a large crockpot, cover with water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 4-6 hours. Then proceed to cook on low heat for 24-48 hours total. As the broth cooks longer it will become more concentrated and gelatinous. Strain the broth through cheesecloth to remove herbs, bones, vegetables and other particles and let the broth come to room temperature before covering and storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Fat from the broth with separate and solidify on top. This fat can be kept in the broth or removed and used for cooking.
Homemade broth is best consumed within 3-5 days or can be kept frozen for up to 6 months. There are also some high quality brands that can be found premade. When choosing a store bought broth, keep in mind the quality of the product and be sure each ingredient can be identified. Bone broth can be used to sip on, as a nutrient-dense caffeine free alternative in the morning or evening. It can also be used in recipes and as a base for homemade soup or stew. Due to its powerful nutrient profile, bone broth is considered a “superfood”. If we want to keep our immune system strong, preserve muscle mass, boost our digestion and metabolism, and ward off the doctor’s office this fall and winter, let’s try out some hearty bone broth to keep our bodies primed for whatever life throws our way.
- Axe, Josh. “#BoneBroth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite.” Dr. Axe, 23 Jan. 2019, https://draxe.com/nutrition/article/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/.
- “Bone Broth Benefits: Everything You Need to Know.” Chris Kresser, 27 Aug. 2019, https://chriskresser.com/the-bountiful-benefits-of-bone-broth-a-comprehensive-guide/.
“Cold & Flu Prevention”
By Coach Kathleen
As the seasons begin to change, cold and flu symptoms will slowly but surely emerge in the general population. While we can certainly catch a cold any time of the year, certain viruses flourish at different temperatures and the fall and winter are ideal for common cold viruses. Some of us may be more prone to catching colds while others can skate through an entire year with barely a sniffle. What causes some of us to get sick more often than others?
Our bodies “catch” a cold when we are unable to effectively fight off a virus. Not being able to ward off harmful intruders can be a sign of nutrient deficiencies or a depressed immune system. Other causes include lack of sleep, mold exposure, an impaired digestive tract, increased stress and traveling. In all of these cases, the immune system is compromised. So, how do we ensure our immune system is strong enough to keep the common cold and dreaded flu away?
Supporting our bodies with potent immune boosting foods is a great place to start. Bone broth is an ancient remedy that has regained popularity over the last decade, for good reason. It’s amino acid and mineral rich composition make it great for boosting the immune system and repairing the gut, which is located within our immune system. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and can break down mucus along with another cold-preventing beverage: hot water! Water alone will help the body move nutrients in and toxins out, as well as breakdown congestion. When we add in antiviral components like honey, ginger and lemon, we have an immune boosting, and cold-fighting super drink! Last but certainly not least, garlic is an incredible addition as it is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Garlic is great for both prevention and treatment as it will boost and aid the immune system in fighting off any infection or virus present. Wondering why orange juice wasn’t on this list? It turns out that “OJ” may actually do more harm than good when it comes to fighting off the common cold and flu.
Orange juice along with other concentrated fruit juices are not all they’re cracked up to be when it comes to nutrient density. They also come laced with more sugar which can inhibit our white blood cells from fighting off infections. When going for vitamin C, choosing a whole orange that also contains water, fiber, and ample amounts of vitamin C, is best. Refined grains can compromise our immune system by harming our digestive tract, causing inflammation, and causing vital nutrients to be lost (leaky gut). Finally, conventional dairy can actually thicken phlegm in the throat, making congestion worse.
Considering the steps above may not make us invincible to airborne illnesses, but it can certainly give us the fighting edge. The common cold last for about 7 days, and if we empower our bodies with nutrients that will help us fight it off, we can incur the least amount of “sick days”. So let’s whip up an immune boosting concoction this fall and cheers to being able to spend more time around our friends, family, and in the gym this “cold and flu season”, instead of quarantined in our bedrooms!
- Myers, Amy. “10 Tips for Preventing the Cold & Flu Naturally.” Amy Myers MD, 13 Aug. 2019, https://www.amymyersmd.com/2018/10/prevent-cold-flu-naturally/.
- Price, Annie. “Common Cold Remedies for Fast Relief and Prevention.” Dr. Axe, 7 Nov. 2018, https://draxe.com/health/cold-and-flu/natural-cold-remedies/.
By Coach Kathleen
Branched-chain amino acids are a commonly used supplement in the athletic world. They include three amino acids that have a chain branched to one side: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids are also essential, meaning the body cannot produce them and we must get them from a food source. There are also 6 other essential amino acids and 20 total amino acids that our bodies need to grow and develop. As all amino acids are imperative for our health, why are these three highlighted and recommended as an additional supplement?
BCAA’s are used to enhance muscle growth and aid in faster recovery time. They work to prevent muscle loss by reducing the amount of muscle atrophy when taken around exercise. More muscle mass means we burn more calories at rest, resulting in a better body composition with less body fat. Since BCAA’s are converted in the muscle instead of the liver, they can also support liver health by lessening its daily strain. If we would like to build and maintain lean body mass, and recover fast enough to get back into the gym daily, BCAA’s are necessary to get us there. We can find BCAA’s in supplement form, and also in animal proteins and legumes.
If we are eating a diet with a variety of high quality animal proteins, we may not need additional supplementation! Chicken, beef, tuna, salmon, tilapia and turkey contain about 6,000mg or more BCAA’s per serving compared to the average BCAA supplement which contains around 5,000mg. Multiply that by the 3 or so meals we consume daily, and we are certainly getting in those essential amino acids! BCAA’s can effectively be used to replenish our bodies in the absence of animal protein, especially right after a hard workout.
When looking for a BCAA supplement, beware of brands containing high amounts of sugars, fillers and dyes. These seem to run rampant in BCAA supplements, making them less effective by exposing our bodies to harmful chemical agents that contradict the powerful benefits of branched-chain amino acids. A good rule of thumb is avoiding products that have ingredients listed that we can’t easily identify. To keep our muscles fueled and recovering efficiently, let’s make sure to get high quality animal sources in most of our meals, and when necessary, utilize a clean BCAA supplement to keep us feeling our best, inside and outside of the gym.
Holeček, Milan. “Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Health and Disease: Metabolism, Alterations in Blood Plasma, and as Supplements.” Nutrition & Metabolism, BioMed Central, 3 May 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5934885/.
Link, Rachael. “The Essential Amino Acids That Enhance Muscles & Athletic Performance.” Dr. Axe, 6 June 2019, https://draxe.com/nutrition/supplements/bcaa/.
by Coach Kathleen
Activated charcoal is another historically used substance that has been making its way back into the spotlight. We may have seen it being used in the form of toothpaste, skin care masks, and of course as an emergency detoxification method for those who have consumed too much alcohol. Activated charcoal is not to be confused with the charcoal we use for grilling! It is formed through controlled decomposition of carbon based compounds like coconut shells and peat that are “activated” through the exposure to high temperature gases. The final product is a porous, negatively charged substance that is able to bind positively charged toxins and gases. Once bound, activated charcoal requires adequate amounts of water to flush through our system and out of our bodies.
Ingesting activated charcoal isn’t only for cases of alcohol poisoning, it can greatly benefit our bodies in other ways as well. It can be used to soothe an upset stomach, binding the gases produced by negative food reactions. It can help lessen our “toxin load” when it comes to environmental toxins like pesticides, chemicals, metals and molds. By removing toxins, activated charcoal use can improve the function of major organs like our liver, kidneys and adrenal glands. As our overall health is a reflection of the internal function of our body systems, it would seem that using activated charcoal is a no-brainer!
While there are plenty of benefits of using activated charcoal, there are also some potential side effects we should also consider. As charcoal is a porous substance, it can bind to substances like vitamins, minerals and medications, therefore interfering with their absorption. If we are going to try out this substance, it’s best to take 90-120 minutes before consuming a meal, supplement or medication. Activated charcoal may also cause constipation if too much is consumed, and should be avoided by people with chronic dehydration or severe intestinal damage. In cases of alcohol poisoning or drug overdose, activated charcoal has been effective in doses of 50-100 grams. For reducing and preventing digestive symptoms like gas and bloating, charcoal may be used in doses of 500-1,000 milligrams per day. Finally, 4-32 grams daily has been used to lower cholesterol levels.
If we choose to utilize activated charcoal, making sure we are using it properly is key. It can be a great supplement to help us detoxify from over consumption of alcohol, or from the toxins acquired throughout the day. Making sure to stay hydrated while taking charcoal will ensure we are moving the toxin-containing charcoal through our bodies efficiently. It’s best to keep activated charcoal use short term due to its ability to affect nutrient absorption. Therefore, activated charcoal can be a great addition to a weekly self-care routine in the form of a face mask or digestive toxin cleanse!
Axe, Josh. “Activated Charcoal Removes Toxins, Whitens Teeth and More!” Dr. Axe, 5 July 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/supplements/activated-charcoal-uses/.
Derlet, R W, and T E Albertson. “Activated Charcoal–Past, Present and Future.” The Western Journal of Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1986, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1306980/.
“Milk: To Drink or Not To Drink?”
By Coach Kathleen
Many of us recall the prevalence of milk in our diets as children. Perhaps we still consume milk regularly, or have switched to a dairy-free alternative. There are many factors that go into deciding if milk is right for us, so let’s start by discussing the basics.
As infants, consuming milk from our mother is how we got our first boost of nutrients that support vitality and growth. We attain a number of nutrients, growth hormones and beneficial bacterial from this raw, undenatured milk. As we wean off of human milk, it’s generally recommended to incorporate cows milk. Signs of cow’s milk reactions date back about 2,000 years ago, around the same time that pasteurization of cow’s milk began. While both raw and pasteurized milk contain milk proteins like lactose and casein that many people react to, raw milk may support the body helping build a tolerance to cow’s milk.
Pasteurization is a process using heat to kill off potentially harmful bacteria. It was developed as a way to protect us from foodborne illnesses derived from strains like salmonella, E. Coli and mycobacterium tuberculosis. The downfall of pasteurization is that it also kills off beneficial bacteria and reduces the nutrient content of milk. The nutrients in raw milk like probiotics, immunoglobulins, and vitamin D naturally boost the immune system, therefore reducing our risk of allergies. The harmful bacteria are certainly nothing to take lightly, however the CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that of the 48 million foodborne illnesses each year, only about 42 cases (0.0005%) come from unpasteurized milk.
Along with the pasteurization process, conventional milk is also homogenized. This is an additional steam treatment process where the fat in milk is broken down, becoming oxidized and often rancid. Lower fat milk also contains thickening agents, “fortified” or “enriched” vitamins, meaning synthetic vitamins that the body has a hard time recognizing, as well as added sugars and artificial flavors. These processed and artificial components are another large reason why many people react to conventional milk products.
In learning more about the milk we are used to seeing on the shelves and the prevalence of milk sensitivities, it’s more clear to see how conventional milk has become another processed food. While raw milk may be a better option in terms of nutrient availability and also helping us build a tolerance to milk proteins, it’s certainly not easy to get a hold of. Due to it’s time and heat sensitive nature, it’s best consumed straight off the farm. Choosing a dairy source that maintains a high quality lifestyle for their producers is also important. Farms who keep their cattle on open pasture, treated humanely, inhibit the use of hormones and have sanitary measures for milk extraction will be the safest to consume raw milk from.
When deciding if milk is right for us, we should also understand that true allergies (IgE antibodies) tend to be ours for life. Sensitivities (IgG antibodies) can come and go as we work to improve our immune health and repair our gut lining. Removing things that we react to and then adding them back in after a period of reprieve and repair generally results in better tolerance. If we are looking to regain a tolerance to cow’s milk, adding raw milk may aid in the process. Milk is a great source of healthy protein, fat and carbohydrates in its undenatured form, it can be a nutrient dense addition to our diets or we can choose to lead a healthy life with the plethora of dairy-free alternatives. If our goal is to be fit and healthy for life, it’s best to listen to our bodies and avoid foods that cause internal stress. The true answer to drinking milk or not is – it depends.
Edwards, Rebekah. “Do You Drink Pasteurized Milk?” Dr. Axe, 22 Aug. 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/article/9-myths-of-pasteurization-or-homogenization-better-options/
Axe, Josh. “The Truth about Raw Milk.” Dr. Axe, 13 Mar. 2014, draxe.com/nutrition/article/raw-milk-benefits/.
Thorning, Tanja Kongerslev, et al. “Milk and Dairy Products: Good or Bad for Human Health? An Assessment of the Totality of Scientific Evidence.” Food & Nutrition Research, Co-Action Publishing, 22 Nov. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5122229/.
“What is Collagen?”
by Coach Kathleen
Collagen is another buzz word that’s been circulating into the spotlight lately. Before we dive into the benefits of collagen and when to use it, let’s clarify what it is! Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. Woah, that sounds important! There are several different kinds of collagen but the most supplements contain a mixture of Type I-III. Type I is the most abundant and it’s found in skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, teeth and between organs. Type II is found mostly in cartilage and our eyes. Type III is found in skin, muscles and blood vessels. As we age, our bodies naturally produce less collagen, so if we want to keep that youthful glow, making sure we have enough collagen is a good place to start!
Collagen also provides several other health benefits ranging from joint health to digestive repair and boosting our metabolism. It has a gel-like structure and can ease stiff, swollen joints by “greasing” them up and reducing swelling. When it comes to our digestion, having sufficient collagen in our digestive tract soothes the intestinal lining, covering up holes that may have otherwise allowed vital nutrients to seep out. Being a source of amino acids (aka: protein), collagen can boost our metabolism by increasing our lean body mass. Glycine converts glucose into energy to feed our muscles, arginine helps repair muscle tissue and glutamine helps maintain our energy levels by fueling our cells.
We can get ample amounts of collagen by eating a diet rich in animal sources. As with all foods, higher quality sources will typically offer more nutrients, so choosing a pastured animal source is ideal. As collagen is rich in bones, boiling animal bones to make a bone broth and consuming it as a warming beverage or in homemade soups and sauces is another great way to get more collagen. Finally, collagen can be found in supplemental form, as hydrolyzed collagen, collagen hydrolysate and collagen peptides. These powdered forms contain the same amino acid profile but are broken down into smaller chains. The shortened chains make collagen even more digestible and easy to absorb. Supplemental collagen dissolves easily in liquids and makes a great addition to our morning coffee, smoothies or even mixed into oatmeal.
While collagen is certainly a necessary and beneficial source of protein, there is one element we should keep into consideration when consuming it often. Collagen is an incomplete source of protein, which means it does not contain all 9 essential amino acids. In fact, it contains 8 of the 9. Combining collagen with complete sources of protein like pastured meat and wild-caught seafood will ensure we get all the amino acids our body needs to function optimally. Due to its prevalence in our bodies and knowing we obtain collagen in animal proteins as well, we can think of hydrolyzed collagen as a beneficial, but optional, supplement. Utilizing collagen to reach our protein needs and support our bodies will keep us looking young, maintaining muscle and absorbing essential nutrients to keep us on the path to being fit for life.
Link, Rachael. “What Is Collagen?” Dr. Axe, 5 Feb. 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/supplements/what-is-collagen/.
Song, Hongdong, et al. “Effect of Orally Administered Collagen Peptides from Bovine Bone on Skin Aging in Chronologically Aged Mice.” Nutrients, MDPI, 3 Nov. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707681/.
Free Radicals & Antioxidents
By Coach Kathleen
Antioxidants and free radicals are common buzz words in the health and wellness world. We can guess by the term “free radical” that this isn’t something we want rampaging around our bodies. And we have likely heard of antioxidants being present in fruits and vegetables, but what makes these so beneficial, and how do the two relate? Let’s dive deeper into what they are, exactly, and how they can help or harm our bodies!
Free radicals are reactive and unstable molecules that can build up, causing accelerated aging through oxidative damage. They lack an electron, which like to be in pairs. Much like a person trying to sleep through a party with a single earplug, free radicals will tear through the whole house until they find another earplug (ie. electron) to put an end to the noise. They can either steal an electron from a healthy atom or accept one from an antioxidant. Free radicals are not abnormal, as they are produced as byproducts of vital functions in our body. They also come from inflammation, exercise, environmental toxins, radiation, drugs and pesticides, emotional stress and a poor diet, to name a few.
Antioxidants are very stable and contain additional electrons that can be donated to other molecules. Antioxidants seek out free radicals to donate electrons to, neutralizing them and protecting healthy cells from incurring oxidative damage. Antioxidants can be found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, like carrots and peppers, that are high in beta-carotene. Green and white tea, herbs, spices and cocoa also contain high amounts of other antioxidants like vitamin C, E, selenium, polyphenols and other carotenoids. Having a variety of antioxidant rich foods will help reduce the negative impact of enduring a stressful day of work, a drink we had over the weekend, and that donut that was too irresistible to pass up.
When we neglect to eat antioxidant rich foods on a regular basis, we risk facing some major health consequences. If there are not enough antioxidants to neutralize free radicals, cell damage accumulates, translating to accelerated aging, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. In order to keep the oxidative damage fire at bay, we should regularly consume a very mixed diet of antioxidant rich foods. Let’s focus on supplying our bodies with these powerful plants that will support all of the hard work we do inside and outside of the gym and keep us warding off the nursing home!
Lobo, V, et al. “Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health.” Pharmacognosy Reviews, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, July 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/.
Levy, Jillian. “Top 8 Foods & Oils to Fight Free Radical Damage.” Dr. Axe, 12 Dec. 2017, draxe.com/health/cancer/fighting-free-radical-damage/.
Axe, Josh. “These Foods, Herb, Spices & Oils Are Absolutely Bursting with Antioxidants.” Dr. Axe, 7 May 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/article/top-10-high-antioxidant-foods/.
“What is Kombucha?”
By Coach Kathleen
There’s a new bubbly beverage out there that has been saturating shelves everywhere from natural food stores to gas stations. It’s carbonated, slightly sweet, slightly tart, unfiltered and called Kombucha. But what exactly is Kombucha, and more importantly, what makes it so good for us? For starters, Kombucha originated about 2,000 years ago in the Far East. It was prized for its vast health benefits stemming from our heart to our brain and gut. We have a plethora of healthy bacteria in our gut, which is also the location of our immune system and constantly sends signals to our brain. Kombucha has been used along with other fermented foods to help support diversity and healthy levels of gut bacteria.
Kombucha is made mostly from black tea and a sweet source like sugar, honey or fruit. It contains a SCOBY, or, symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, that causes the beverage to ferment as it is fed by the sugar. Once the mixture starts to ferment, carbonation forms and the flavor profile changes based on how long it ferments. Simple taste tests along a 7-10 day period will yield the acidity most agreeable to our taste buds. Once the ideal flavor has been reached, the majority of the fermented tea is removed from the scoby and bottled. Traces of live bacterial strains may remain in the beverage and are part of what makes this drink so good for us!
What makes Kombucha different from other sweet carbonated beverages is that it’s packed with naturally occurring components that can sky-rocket our health. It contains B-vitamins such as B12, that is known to boost our mental health. It also contains cellulose-producing bacteria that help protect our cells. The naturally occurring probiotics, acids and enzymes support digestion, gut health and protect us against harmful bacteria. A high antioxidant load reduces inflammation and helps prevent diseases. Studies have also shown it to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, lowering triglycerides and regulating cholesterol naturally.
When it comes to adding kombucha into our diets, a slow approach is usually best received. As kombucha is higher in acidity it can cause some digestive symptoms for people with poor gut health, stomach ulcers or heartburn. Starting off with small doses is a great way to slowly start reaping health benefits while testing the waters of our own tolerance. Gradually we can work to a larger quantity, and enjoy a delicious beverage while we cheers to our health!
- Jung, Youngmi, et al. “Effect of Kombucha on Gut-Microbiota in Mouse Having Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” Food Science and Biotechnology, Springer Singapore, 12 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30815318.
Axe, Josh. “This ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ Protects Your Gut & Fights Food Poisoning Pathogens (and More!).” Dr. Axe, 21 Feb. 2019, draxe.com/7-reasons-drink-kombucha-everyday/
“Eating to Gain Muscle”
By Coach Kathleen
We all have different goals when it comes to our health and how we want our bodies to look and function. We might strive for an aesthetic goal, or to simply be more confident and capable. Believe it or not these goals have a lot more in common than we may think. In order to look, feel and perform our best, we have to support our bodies with the nutrients it needs to build a strong, resilient body. When we are in a poor state of health, our bodies will not prioritize building muscle. They will do what is needed to keep us alive, and oftentimes that means breaking down existing muscle, using stored nutrients to support our vital organs.
When we support our bodies with the proper nutrients and fuel, along with the correct stimuli, we will be able to start growing muscle. More muscle mass does not mean we will look like a bodybuilder, unless we specifically try to. In fact our genetics and gender play a large role in deciding what that increase of muscle will look like on our unique bodies. The term “abs are built in the kitchen” can be true for some, while others can be lean and muscular, eating enough to support their bodies and have a rock solid core, without prominent abs. When we talk about building muscle, we need to keep our bio-individuality in mind and accept that how our bodies look with lean body mass will always differ.
One of the keys to building muscle is making sure we are eating enough to support our levels of activity. This includes what we do inside and outside of the gym. To start, eating about 0.7-1g of protein per bodyweight will give us a good base of protein to support maintaining and building lean body mass. Protein sources should be mostly complete sources, containing all of the essential amino acids that we need, such as eggs, grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish. Healthy fats like those found in fish oil, flax oil, egg yolks and almonds help transport nutrients to the places they are needed in our bodies, repairing and replenishing nutrient stores. Carbohydrates are a cofactor in tissue building and everything from starchy sweet potatoes to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli support muscle growth in different ways. Getting in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables will ensure our bodies get the range of vitamins and minerals needed to boost and maintain those muscle gains.
There are also some dietary choices that can have a negative impact on muscle growth. Hydrogenated oils found in canola, soybean, vegetable and corn oil will slow muscle recovery and growth due to an increase of inflammation. Alcohol consumption can also pose a threat as it depletes nutrients that are necessary for tissue growth. Bleached white products like bread, pasta and other wheat products contain anti-nutrients that impair our digestional health, decreasing our ability to absorb nutrients. Finally, consuming white sugar around workouts increases free radical damage, inflammation, fatigue and can also lead to insulin resistance.
In order to grow muscle beyond our minimum needs for locomotion and survival, we have to create an adaptive need for more muscle. Thinking back to our example of natural bodybuilders, we know that their primary focus is taxing targeted muscle groups to cause hypertrophy, which stimulates muscle growth in order to keep up with demand. Heavier weight training performed weekly will signal to the body a need to build more muscle tissue. Conversely, doing excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise and avoiding weight training could selectively reduce our muscle mass, as muscle is heavier to move around for long periods of time. By no means must we choose one or the other, but we can certainly take thisi nto account based on our specific aesthetic, performance and long term health goals. Being strong and able to run from predators was certainly something our ancestors relied on for survival. So let’s use the accessibility of a kick-ass gym, nutrient dense foods and information to keep us fit, healthy and lean for the rest of our lives.
Benetti, Elisa, et al. “High Sugar Intake and Development of Skeletal Muscle Insulin Resistance and Inflammation in Mice: a Protective Role for PPAR- δ Agonism.” Mediators of Inflammation, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703883/.
Axe, Josh. “How to Eat to Gain Muscle.” Dr. Axe, 29 Nov. 2017, draxe.com/eat-gain-muscle/.
by Coach Kathleen
There is nothing enjoyable about wanting to go do a workout, or simply enjoy a nice hike or run and experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) distress. This feeling can be presented in a multitude of ways and range from slight discomfort to extreme pain and loss of control. We typically see this on competition or testing days where the pressure is on, and quite literally causes our bodies to constrict and force anything “extra” out. There are many causes for GI distress ranging from dietary, lifestyle and mechanical factors.
We unintentionally raise our core body temperature when we are anxious or start exercising. This increase in temperature causes us to sweat, moving us towards dehydration and depleting minerals that are necessary for digestive function. This heightened state also causes our blood to flow away from our digestive tract and to the parts of the body that need it most, like our muscles. The lack of blood flow in our digestive system can cause what we know of as “leaky gut”, the opening of tight junctions in our small intestine.
A leaky gut can be exacerbated by things like gluten and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen). How many of us have used pasta to “carb up” before game day? I’m sure most of us can also raise a hand for grabbing some Advil to mask any ache or pain that may impede us on any given day as well. While not everyone has the same experiences and gut microbiota, there are certainly some tactics we can use to help prevent this from happening.
To support the health of our small intestine we can start by avoiding foods that commonly cause gas, bloating, indigestion and other digestive symptoms. This will help reduce our inflammatory response by removing foods we are intolerant to. Foods that tend to cause digestive distress are pasteurized dairy, gluten, refined sugar, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol. There are also several supplements that can help reduce leaky gut by strengthening the gut lining, repairing tight junctions.
Getting appropriate amounts of prebiotic foods like asparagus and chicory root (which, in a tea form, tastes similar to coffee!) help support digestive function by feeding healthy bacteria. Glutamine can also help support the integrity of the gut lining and can be found in high concentration in meat and seafood. Omega-3 sources like fish oil help reduce inflammation of an irritated gut, and soothing herbs like slippery elm and ginger help rebuild mucosal lining. Utilizing stress reduction tactics also greatly help relieve GI distress.
Meditation and breathing exercises can be extremely useful in lowering the stress and anxiety that can lead to leaky gut symptoms. When we perceive something as a threat, our bodies respond by shifting into “fight or flight” mode, moving all other bodily processes to the back of the line. This survival tactic can be altered if we understand the role our mind has on activating sympathetic (fight or flight) or parasympathetic (rest and digest) states. If we are entering into an unknown challenge, chances are we may feel our “gut drop”. This adrenaline rush can be controlled if we simply channel our thoughts to something positive. By using our mind to assure our body that we are not in danger, it can continue normal functions, and save us a last minute sprint to the bathroom.
Whether GI distress is something we face often or not, it’s important to understand the underlying mechanism, in order to help lessen the negative effects. A leaky gut is the foundation of health issues like autoimmune disease and other nutrient deficiencies. Supporting our bodies by eating nutrient dense foods and learning how to channel our reactions through breathing and meditation will ensure we limit digestive upset and absorb nutrients optimally. Of the few things we can control in life, we choose what we eat, so on our journey to being fit for life, let’s provide our bodies with foods that nourish and support it’s optimal function.
Levy, Jillian. “These Symptoms Could Mean You Have IBS.” Dr. Axe, 11 Apr. 2016, draxe.com/ibs-symptoms/.
“Building an Iron Gut – Part I. Causes of GI Distress |.” Eat Sleep Fit, www.eatsleep.fit/endurance-sports/iron-gut-1/.