In this month’s article, I will not bore you with the science behind correct training or the many injurious exercises people do in and out of the gym during their pursuit for physical or performance improvements. In this article, I will share a story about how a person of extreme health may still have unhealthy body chemistry.
I am assuming that the readers of this online magazine have a wide range of nutrition and training experience and dedication. I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years now. After reading a few thousand published research articles during my nine years of undergrad and doctorate studies, I’ve realized a few important things that everyone should know. First, many studies have major flaws in design, population selection, statistics, or a combination of each. While reading posts in many online forums, I’ve seen many people quote results from studies that are poorly done. No conclusions can really be drawn from these studies, but people still do. I highly encourage everyone to question everything they read. I’ve seen mistakes in textbooks for personal trainers and for college classes. We all need to get away from the spoon feeding of information and encourage critical thinking.
The other thing I learned along the path for scholastic knowledge is a CRAP load of information. Pulling together information from nutrition, biomechanics, and physiology and making sense of everything is quite an interesting challenge. Fortunately, some well timed doses of nootropics and some sacrificing in sleep led to the discovery of valuable pieces of information.
During the last 17 years of reading published research on nutrition and physiology, I’ve developed a sound nutrition plan and even some supplement formulas for optimal health. From my perspective, anyone looking to improve their nutrition should consider three key areas.
The first and most common aspect of nutrition people consider is vitamins and minerals. People either buy a multi vitamin, eat a variety of foods, or a combination of both. I always recommend getting your nutrients from food sources before considering pills. Based on this belief, I eat a wide variety of nutritious foods like blueberries, dark green vegetables, bright colored foods (yellow peppers, tomatoes, etc.), and unrefined carbohydrates.
The second important aspect of nutrition is antioxidants. The cellular damage from oxidation causes an exponential rise in DNA damage from free radicals. In general, ‘antioxidants’ quench the chemical reaction of cellular damage. A host of studies have emerged to correlate the health effects of antioxidant deficiency. These diseases include cancer (many kinds), dementia, general fatigue, and inflammatory conditions throughout the body.
Finally, the last important aspect of nutrition involves probiotics. Our bodies host many different strains of bacteria ranging from beneficial to neutral to harmful. Eating fermented foods or foods that contain beneficial bacteria helps support the growth of the many ‘good’ bacteria. The good bacteria helps your body absorb nutrients, fight the ‘bad’ bacteria, eliminate toxic waste, and supports good immune function. As you become deficient in the beneficial bacteria, your body becomes more susceptible to infection and nutrient deficiencies.
Keeping the three concepts in mind, I take a mixture of the strongest antioxidants available like goji berries, coffee berry, grape seed extract, pomegranate extract, beta glucan, alpha lipoic acid, etc. I drink Kefir (like yogurt but more strains of the good bacteria) and take additional probiotics. I fortify my customized meal replacement shakes with a vitamin and mineral complex. From my perspective, I have covered all aspects of good nutrition. Remember, this is just for healthy nutrition, not performance or bodybuilding supplementation. That’s a whole different article.
Here’s the fun part. I was recently evaluated by a former classmate and friend from Penn State. Thomas Incledon is regarded as one of the top scientists in the country regarding health and nutrition. He has the knowledge and capabilities to test your blood, stool, and urine for hundreds of different health markers ranging from vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hormones, neuropeptides, toxic metals, bacteria, virus, fungus, cytokinins, etc. Essentially, with testing, he can see your body’s chemistry and physiology on paper. From there he can recommend proper treatment for optimal health.
I had a complete vitamin / mineral / amino acid / antioxidant profile test done through blood samples and an intestinal health test done with stool samples (not fun collecting without good ventilation). Well, the results were surprising to say the least. My results showed I was low in vitamin E, B5, choline, inositol, and antioxidants! At first, I was shocked at the results. I was taking in at least 1000iu of vitamin E, 500mg of choline from a nootropic formula, and roughly 10000 ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a test tube analysis that measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances) a day. According to the test results, my antioxidant score of 64.4 is below the recommended 75. However, Tom mentioned that most people he tests score in the 30’s. Why are antioxidants important? For people who put their body through major physical stress, antioxidants will reduce inflammation and decrease damage to your DNA. That leads to improved rate of recovery and decrease mutagenesis of the DNA during cellular turnover (aka cancer).
Some very important lessons can be learned from this experience. First, even though you may eat a balanced nutrition plan, you may not be getting the essential nutrients your body needs. If you find yourself eating the same foods weekly and monthly, try to eat different fresh food with different colors for variety. Second, people who spend money on creatine, prohormones, herbal stimulants (metabolic or hormonal), and high doses of specific amino acids for improved performance may want to consider spending some of that money on antioxidants, probiotics, and a very good multi vitamin. Ultimately, when you are 60 years old, being big may not matter as much, you might be more concerned about having less arthritis, risk of cancer, higher energy levels, and improved overall health. Now is the time to act. If you wait until you are already 60 to care about your antioxidant / vitamin /mineral/ bacterial health, it will be too late.
The take away message is the following:
- Never assume that everything you read is true, even if it from ‘experts’ in the field
- Focus your nutrition and supplementation on vitamin/minerals, antioxidants, and probiotics for life long optimal health.
- Eat a wide variety of food with different colors to assure a comprehensive intake of different nutrients.