Avoiding Exercise Related Injuries through Proper nutrition
Are you into working out?
Is Exercise your way of relieving stress?
Do you prefer being outside and active?
Have you had a nagging injury that you are trying to ignore?
Has an injury or an over-use syndrome got you down?
Rest, Ice and Elevation not helping your aching joints?
Are your Muscles giving you a fit with persistent soreness and pain?
What about cramps or muscle spasm?
Do you have an old injury to a joint that flares up now and again?
If so, you are not alone.
The Good News is this: There are simple dietary and nutritional solutions to prevent most exercise related problems.
Do know what happens when “true prevention” works?
That is correct…..NOTHING. Injuries, unscheduled pain and chronic ailments are avoided.
In the field of Health and Well-ness we have a lot of options, some worthwhile and others are just fads or just plain gimmicky.
A little background first before I give you the answers.
Athletes by design, stress their body’s and push themselves to extremes that “couch potatoes” only see on TV. It has been said that competitive athletes sweat more in 5 years than most people sweat their entire lives. Remember sweat contains minerals, lots of them.
The benefits of regular intensive exercise are a stronger body, a clear mind, less stress and a higher quality of life. Unfortunately, another unintended outcome is injury, some mild – others debilitating.
Virtually every person I meet in the gym has a philosophy about diet and nutrition. There are dozens of diet books that are popular today and most of them have positive useful information. Most of these books focus on reaching and maintaining a healthy weight while supposedly optimizing nutrition. Dietary supplementation is given “lip service” in most of these plans. This is where I can help.
The Four Food Groups and The Food Pyramid just DO NOT cut it. The idea that “you can get everything you need from the four food groups” is nothing more than a sales pitch to sell us a faulty bill of goods – Our food supply.
Without going into to great detail let me make a few key points.
Our soil is depleted of minerals [2/3 of our essential nutrients]
We use fertilizer to make crops grow [NPK is 3 minerals –nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium – we need around 60]
It has been reported that in just 7 years of farming, with or without NPK, there is significant depletion of mineral content in the soil and plants alike. Early symptoms include frail, unhealthy plants and unhealthy/infertile animals that eat this food.
BTW – flooding, historically, replenishes minerals. We started using NPK about 100 years ago and levees about the same time [preventing flooding].
Side note: We are not designed to eat rocks. We are supposed to get our minerals from plants and/or animals that have eaten vegetation. Rock like minerals [like calcium carbonate] are about 3% absorbed where minerals from plants are colloidal and 98% absorbed, a big difference!
Take home message: Our farmland’s soil is depleted of minerals. Plants cannot make minerals. You cannot rely on diet alone for your minerals.
Now for a quick overview of my approach:
We can categorize nutrients into 5 groups. 1) Minerals 2) Vitamins 3) Amino Acids/Protein 4) Oils/Fats 5) Vita-Nutrients
Minerals: Many scientists believe there are around 60 minerals necessary for optimal health. On average, for each mineral deficiency there are 10 symptoms.
[There are 3 sub-groups to consider; major, trace and ultra-trace minerals.]
A Calcium shortage can lead to popping, creaking, crunchy joints, joint pain, low back pain, neck pain, irritability, insomnia, road rage, PMS, twitching muscles and the more serious osteoporosis as well as a few dozen more symptoms. [BTW dark colas containing phosphoric acid rob the body of calcium and acidify our bodies, avoid them]
Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle spasm, allergies, headaches, asthma, migraines, kidney stones/bone spurring and even high blood pressure or seizures; and the list goes on and on. If you are lacking Zinc you can expect a reduced sense of smell, more infections – including acne, hair loss, prostate problems and the seemingly humorous “smelly tennis shoe syndrome” [no joke- there are no odor producing sweat glands on the feet]. Again, there are more symptoms to list.
Chromium deficiency can cause a “sweet tooth” or insulin resistance, weight gain especially fat, acne and eventually diabetes.
Copper deficiency can manifest as “stretch marks”, loss of elastic fibers in the skin and tissues [crow’s feet, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and aneurysms]. Joints can also be affected by loss of elasticity that can make you more prone to injury.
Other trace minerals like Tin and Manganese can result in hearing loss and hair loss when they are in short supply.
And the list goes on and on.
Vitamins: Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble
Water soluble – B complex and Vitamin C
Fat soluble – Vitamins A, D, E and K
There are many vitamin deficiency symptoms in our everyday lives that we accept as part of life, but are easily correctable. If you have chapped lips then B2 or riboflavin is the fix. Low blood pressure is related to B12 being short. Carpal tunnel syndrome is relieved with B6. Muscle spasm and asthma are also improved with B6. If you have dry eyes then vitamin A is for you. Easy bruising and unusual joint/muscle pain trouble can be alleviated with vitamin C. If you are depressed then vitamin D may help. And I can go on and on.
It is difficult to get enough vitamins from foods alone. The RDA is an outdated approach to nutrition. Its goal is to avoid overt deficiency states and has no place in optimal health. Vitamins are very safe and for the most part non-toxic. Be informed and smart about how you supplement. One of my favorite books is The Vita-Nutrient Solution by Dr Atkins.
Amino Acids/Protein: Protein CAN be optimized through Diet
Most people are aware that protein is important to health. But, many are confused, misled or simply lacking good information on which protein sources are best and how much is needed. Some protein sources are better than others.
Foods sources include two key categories: Animal and Plant sources.
Animal proteins provide all 20 amino acids in balanced, proportional amounts. I recommend animal protein as your main source.
Plant sources are famous for missing one or more key essential amino acids [Soy has very little methionine, an essential amino acid and Corn lacks tryptophan, also essential]. When any “Essential” nutrient is missing or deficient there will be symptoms. It is worth noting that methionine is important for healthy joints.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian be sure to learn about what vegetables to combine to better achieve the proper amino acid balance. I’m not a big fan soy protein, but if you like it that’s ok; soy should be less than 25% of the protein you consume to avoid amino acid imbalance.
For the more serious fitness enthusiast a protein supplement is recommended to ensure ideal protein balance. But, which one?
I like whey protein and egg protein.
There are various products that are well tolerated and even taste great. It is a personal decision about which one to get; some people like more flavor or a convenient ready to drink liquid. I like to keep it simple.
Probably the best source is the “whey isolate” version, but it is more expensive. I use an unflavored product that has no additives or flavors that can be mixed with almost anything, just not hot liquids – curdling will occur.
Separate amino acid supplements can be of tremendous benefit.
My two favorites are l-Arginine and l-Glutamine. I also take L-Carnitine.
The Branched chain amino acids [BCAA’s] are very helpful for serious bodybuilding.
The Omega 3 oils get the spotlight nowadays and are very important. α-Linolenic acid or ALA eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA docosahexaenoic acid or DHA
Dietary sources include cold water fish like tuna, sardines or salmon as well as fresh vegetables, but it is difficult to get enough from diet alone, unless you are an Eskimo.
Other fats or oils are also instrumental to good health; saturated fats found in animal products [including butter] and coconut oil, some Omega 6 oils [Linoleic acid or LA and gamma-linolenic acid or GLA] and the Omega 9’s are all part of the healthy team of good dietary fats.
Omega 3’s should comprise around 3% of your daily calories – or 7-10 grams. The Omega 3’s come from animal and plant sources; fish oil, krill oil and flax oil supplements.
I take a concentrated fish oil capsule along with flax oil capsules.
You can also get liquid versions or combination products.
Saturated fats are rendered harmless when adequate amounts of the omega 3 oils are present. Also, a proper omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is vital to avoid an inflammatory environment in the body. The omega 6:3 ratio is an interesting topic; Omega 9 oils, although not essential, help out by displacing the plentiful Omega 6 oils [corn, sunflower and safflower are loaded with Omega 6’s] and Olive oil is good for cooking being heat stable.
Vita-Nutrients: These are nutrients that are present in the body when it is at its best. We can make them but not in optimal quantities, especially under stress [physical or mental], and as we age.
Glucosamine/chondroitin with MSM is a popular mixture to give athletes an ideal blend of joint nutrients [I prefer the bovine version]. I don’t have joint pain, but I take it as a preventative measure. People with joint pain almost always have reduction of symptoms within 2 weeks.
Co-Enzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is a vitamin like compound found in every cell of our bodies and is crucial to energy production. The more you learn about it the more you’ll want to take it. I think 100-200 mg per day is a good place to start. Some health nuts [like myself] take much more, 400-800mg per day. CQ10 is 100% non-toxic.
There other Vita-Nutrients to consider like DHEA, pregnenolone and Adrenal Extract for the more enthusiastic supplement shoppers.
In Summary: If there are 90 nutrients that we say are ESSENTIAL then let’s try to improve our chances of optimizing them.
Remember, if a nutrient is “essential” we will experience deficiency symptoms if it is lacking in our diets or supplements.
1) Get a good multiple vitamin/mineral product. Versions with “Chelated” minerals are best. I also like those with some plant based vitamins.
2) Take a quality Calcium product. Look for MCHA as the calcium source and one that includes Magnesium, vitamin D and some assorted trace minerals.
3) Take Omega 3 oils. Flax oil is the best to start. Adding Krill or fish oil later [BTW – Krill oil in the container has a distinctive odor – if you place 3-4 desiccant packs in the bottle and refrigerate it, the odor is gone in 12 hours]
4) Find a good Colloidal mineral product for trace minerals. Make sure it’s from Humic shale and NOT ionic minerals. Humic shale is the fossilized remains of the dinosaur days – plant based and 98% absorbed.
5) Try to find a Glucosamine Chondroitin and MSM product [bovine source is best] to protect your joints.
6) Consider taking extra Vitamin C [products with rose hips also contain the Bioflavonoids from the natural C family]. I prefer capsules over tablets. Chewable versions can mottle teeth – not good.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to message or comment.