|Low Back and Pelvic Pain Workshop|
Sunday March 11th 2012
Click HERE to request more details |
Welcome to our January newsletter...we figured we'd give you some time to get the New Year underway before sending this out. Just in case you're wondering about the dubious product placement shot, please rest assured that we only ever recommend products we have battle tested ourselves. For those who are curious, this shot was taken in Colorado in June 2011 during the 6 day TransRockies running race. More on these two excellent recovery products in the section on muscle soreness and recovery below.
As always, if there are particular topics you'd like to see covered in future newsletters please let us know!
|Exercise And Adrenal Function|
|Last month we discussed the 3 stages of adrenal fatigue as identified using saliva measurements of cortisol and DHEA. Having objective data that reflects adrenal function is helpful but inevitably raises the question "What do I do about it?" There are 3 things that need to be done:|
1. Improve your diet by following these principles:
Get rid of grains, dairy and soy
At every meal eat wild caught fish or organic free range eggs or grass fed organic meat or organic free range poultry
At every meal eat fresh, locally grown organic vegetables
Be very liberal with all these fats and oils - cold pressed, extra virgin, organic olive oil, coconut butter, organic butter, organic avocado, organic nuts and seeds
2. Be asleep by 10pm at the latest and always get at least 8 hours sleep.
3. Appropriate daily exercise
The keyword here is "appropriate". If you are very run down and barely have enough energy to make it through your daily routine it is not a good idea to sign up for a Cross Fit class three days a week! On the other hand, if your energy levels are good and your musculoskeletal system is in good shape, then it might be appropriate to start running and lifting weights. In order to figure out what is appropriate exercise, you must ask yourself the following questions:
How much energy do I have?
How much extra body fat do I have?
How bad is my posture?
How long has it been since I did daily exercise?
What sports did I excel at when I was younger?
How much stress am I under?
If you have very low energy levels, 30lbs of extra body fat and horrible posture then you are better off choosing gentle, restorative forms of exercise like yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Feldenkrais or stretching of your own design. If you are working with a professional, have them perform a thorough assessment of your musculoskeletal system and design a stretching program that reflects your personal biomechanical inadequacies. It is best to do your exercise in the morning and at the same time every morning....sunrise is ideal as this is the time when your cortisol levels should be at their highest.
Many people feel tired and lethargic early in the morning because their adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol at that time of day (and their pineal glands keep producing melatonin past sunrise, a phenomenon known as melatonin spill over). The best remedy for this cortisol/melatonin problem is to get outside and move your body in sunlight. You need unfiltered daylight (no sunglasses) coming into your eyes. There is a direct link between the retina and the pineal gland called the suprachiasmatic nucleus...this collection of nerves tells the pineal gland when to stop producing melatonin and also influences body temperature and cortisol production. This mechanism only works if you are outside getting daylight in your eyes!
We have seen many clients over the years who had horrible circadian rhythm dysfunctions from shift work, long haul jet travel, getting up late and working too late into the evening. If you always feel tired and lethargic when you get up then you have a circadian rhythm dysfunction i.e. your morning cortisol levels are too low and melatonin levels are too high. Your body literally thinks it is 3am even though the sun is up. The single most effective way to correct this problem is to get up at sunrise and exercise. Of course this also means you must go to bed earlier than usual so that you get at least 8 hours sleep. It usually takes about two weeks to re-train your circadian rhythms...it's not an easy change to make but the benefits make the effort worthwhile.
What if your energy levels are not that low and you only have 5-10lbs of extra body fat? Maybe you used to run cross country when you were a teenager or maybe you were a regional tennis champ in your 20s. In this case you should still exercise outside at sunrise every morning but your choice of exercise can be more aggressive. A good plan would be to jog/walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and do some easy strength training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you need help with this program design process let us know!
Next month we'll talk about how to suppress excessive evening and night time cortisol levels.
Reduce Muscle Soreness And Speed Recovery
|Most of us get sore muscles from time to time. Anybody who lifts weights regularly expects to feel sore from time to time. Post workout soreness is your confirmation that you did something worthwhile. If you NEVER got sore from strength training it's probably time to make some changes to your routine. Last month we talked about how effective it can be to start using very high rep ranges in order to get better results from your strength training. High rep ranges work because they place significant stress on slow twitch (type 1) muscle fibres. Making a radical change like this to your strength training routine will make you sore. What can be done to mitigate this and speed up the recovery process?|
There are a number of supplements that can help. The one we like best is called 100% MR and is available from www.infinityfitness.com. Get the Mixed Berry flavour as it is sweetened with Stevia - not artificial sweeteners. Take 1-2 scoops of this before you workout and another 1-2 scoops immediately after. 100% MR contains branch chain amino acids, taurine and glutamine. We highly recommend it before and after any kind of physical training even endurance training. If you don't take enough of this stuff it wont do anything so if you have tried 1 scoop and it did not do anything then increase to 2 scoops. Some of you may even need 3 scoops at a time. Infinity Fitness also do a companion product called Muscle Synthesis which is a broad spectrum free form amino acid capsule. Free form amino acids have largely replaced protein powders in recent years as they are much easier to digest and assimilate. After 2-3 weeks using 100% MR before and after your training, add the Muscle Synthesis as well. If you notice further reductions in post exercise muscle soreness when using both products then stick with both on an ongoing basis.
Another good way to speed up your recovery from strenuous exercise is hot/cold contrast. Think Russian or Finnish sauna with a hole cut in the ice for the cold plunge. Most of us don't live in that kind of weather so a compromise has to be made. If you have access to a sauna then use it. Put water on the heater/coals to create steam and humidity...the goal is to SWEAT profusely. After a few minutes (or whenever you start to get a little too hot for comfort) get out of the sauna and get in the coldest water you can find. This might be the cold water in the shower or a cold bath or a large tub of icy water in your back garden. Spend 30s-60s in the cold water then go back into the heat and repeat the process. Go from hot to cold at least 3 times. Always start in the heat and finish in the cold. If you do this several times a week you will quickly build a tolerance for both the cold and the hot temperatures. We have done this many times in the winter in Finland. The sauna temperature is usually at least 140 Fahrenheit and the lake has at least 6 inches of ice on it so the water temperature is around 34-36 Fahrenheit. You sleep like a baby after an experience like that! You're probably wondering what this does. There are 3 main benefits:
1. It causes rapid/massive vasodilation and vasoconstriction of blood vessels. This creates an effective pumping mechanism which removes metabolic waste from tight/ischemic tissue.
2. The profuse sweating in the sauna helps to get rid of toxins - that's why a dry sauna won't work well. You need significant thermal stress (i.e. humidity and heat) to cause profuse sweating. Your skin acts as an organ of elimination. Make it work for you by exercising daily and getting in a wet sauna regularly.
3. Most of us live in very tightly controlled environments. We have the temperature in our houses set just so, then we climb into our climate controlled cars and drive to work where the temperature is again maintained in a very narrow range by a computer. Our ancestors did not live like this...in the summer they got HOT and in the winter they got COLD. In the day time they were warmer than at night. It is not healthy or desirable to live in an environment that never goes below 60 Fahrenheit or above 75 Fahrenheit. Part of knowing you are alive is physical interaction with the outdoors. Hot/cold contrast will make you feel more alive than you have in a long time.
Making Sense Of Blood Tests
|Many of you have had blood tests but most of you probably don't really understand what these tests are telling you about your health. That's a shame because regular blood testing can be very helpful in determining what effects your diet and lifestyle is having on your physiology. This month we'll go through cholesterol, HDL, LDL, lipoprotein (a) and triglycerides. In the February and March editions of this newsletter we'll go through albumin, globulin, TSH, homocysteine, c reactive protein, creatine kinase, ferritin, white blood cell count, haemoglobin A1C and 25 hydroxy vitamin D.|
Cholesterol measurements get all the headlines but really are not all that helpful. The results needs to be put in context with HDL, LDL, triglycerides and inflammatory markers like lipoprotein (a), homocysteine, c reactive protein (highly sensitive version). The other thing that needs to be understood is that the "normal" levels for cholesterol have been revised downwards over the years so that nowadays many healthy individuals are advised to start using statins if their total cholesterol is over 200mg/dL REGARDLESS of what their other test results look like. Much of this is due to the fact that many MDs get their ongoing education from drug company sales reps, who of coursecare only about turning more people into customers. For a good review of this problem read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes and "The Cholesterol Myths" by Uffe Ravnskov.
Another problem is that we are all led to believe that if we increase our consumption of eggs, bacon and red meat this will result in higher cholesterol levels. This is not necessarily the case. There are some individuals who experience a drop in cholesterol when they make such a dietary change and others who see no change at all. If you wish to try such an experiment on yourself, make sure you are eating high quality/"clean" eggs, bacon and read meat. If you load up on these foods at Vons, Lucky or Ralphs then you are prejudicing the results of your own experiment. The goal is not to see what effect the growth hormones, flavourings, preservatives and antibiotic residues have on your blood chemistry!
HDL is a sub fraction of your total cholesterol and it's main function is to transport cholesterol to the liver, adrenals, testes and/or ovaries. It is actively involved in the removal of cholesterol from arterial walls. In this regard it is antagonistic to LDL. Cholesterol is an absolute necessity for the production of the following hormones:
In other words, if you deliberately cut fat from your diet, or if you are taking a statin, it's just a matter of time before you develop a hormonal problem. You cannot possibly make optimal amounts of these hormones unless you eat fat. Could this be one of the reasons that so many people have a hard time getting pregnant? What about all those males getting diagnosed with testosterone deficiencies? Generally speaking it is good to have high HDL. High HDL levels indicate that plenty of cholesterol is being transported to areas in the body where hormones are made. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL can be useful in this regard. If this ratio is under 3.5 you are doing well and lower is even better.
LDL is also a subfraction of your total cholesterol. It has become increasingly obvious recently that the oxidised form of LDL is much more relevant in terms of cardiovascular health and in particular arterial wall health. The problem is that this test is not readily available and many MDs do not know about it. For more information go to:http://www.shiel.com/oxldl.htm
If you are able to get this test done, lower numbers are better.
Lipoprotein (a) is a sub fraction of LDL and is an inherited risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lower numbers are better. High levels often go hand in hand with infections like h. pylori. H. pylori is a bacterial infection that causes damage to the parietal cells in your stomach, thus reducing the production of hydrochloric acid. This might sound like a good thing but it's not! You need hydrochloric acid to kill pathogens in the food you eat and to break down high protein foods especially red meat. If you have noticed that your ability to digest red meat has deteriorated as you got older, or if you seem to have less of an urge to eat red meat than when you were younger, you should get tested for h. pylori. It's a nasty infection that many of us have for years and do not know it. Left untreated it sets the stage for peptic ulcers and even stomach cancer. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, two Australian researchers, received a Nobel Prize in 2005 for demonstrating the unpleasant effects of h. pylori in human beings. All of this is relatively new information so don't be surprised if your MD knows nothing about it. It's up to you to figure this stuff out - after all it's YOUR health.
Triglyceride levels generally reflect the amount of carbohydrate in your diet. The more carbohydrate you eat the higher your triglycerides are likely to be. Carbohydrate rich foods include grains, vegetables and fruits and anything made with grains, vegetables and fruits. Over consumption of carbohydrates is probably the single biggest mistake that most Westerners make. Most of us eat carbohydrates in the kind of quantities that competitive marathon runners require. Unless you are running 50+ miles a week you should not be eating like this! If your triglycerides are over 80mg/dL, forget about grains and fruit. Get your carbohydrates from fresh, locally produced, organic vegetables. Contrary to popular belief fruit is not good for everybody. Most of the carbohydrate in fruit comes in the form of fructose (fruit sugar). The only major metabolic pathway for frucotose is conversion to triglycerides by the liver. This is one reason why anything containing fructose should be eliminated if you have high triglycerides. You should see major changes in your triglyceride count if you make these dietary changes AND exercise for at least one hour every day.
We know this is a lot of information but these are some health related issues that you ought to get familiar with. We'll continue our discussion of blood tests next month. Happy New Year!