No doubt you’ve heard all kinds of information about detoxification, and you may have wondered if it’s a good choice for you. If you’re a competitive athlete, there’s no doubt that a good detox can do wonders for your health and prepare you for a competition. What’s the right way to incorporate this strategy into your routine?
What Is Detoxification?
Sometimes referred to as a cleanse, detoxification is used to clean out the system. And by system, that usually refers to the excretory system, which plays the biggest role in detoxification. That includes the skin, liver, lungs, large intestine, and kidneys. Of course, that means we’re also referring to the digestive system.
A cleanse enables you to essentially restart your body so you can once again be at peak performance.
The truth, of course, is that our bodies naturally cleanse themselves. So there’s an argument that detoxification isn’t necessary. If you were to eat all of the right foods, that would likely be a valid argument. But we’re human; we’re not perfect. That bad bad stuff can pile up and not let the system clear itself like it should. Enter, then, the lure of detoxification.
Bad Out, Good In
Most cleanses focus on two aspects: ridding your body of the bad things you’ve put in it and loading it up with vitamin-rich, healthy foods. When you strip your diet down to the bare essentials, you allow your liver and kidneys to really do the work they’re designed to do.
Depending on the type of cleanse you choose, it could be a few days up to a month. Typically, there are phases to the detoxification process. Those may include starting on an all-liquid diet (with supplements), followed by reintroducing foods, with the more neutral ones coming first. All detoxifications eliminate alcohol and smoking, and many also remove gluten, sugar, and dairy from the diet.
Benefits of Detoxification
If you were to do a Google search on detoxification, you’d find there are millions of hits on the topic. That’s why, if you choose to take on a cleanse, it’s important to do your research and consult an expert. When taken on responsibly, your body can really experience a jumpstart from a detox.
Some of the positives associated with extricating the sludge include:
- Ridding your body of excess toxins
- Purifying cells and tissues
- Improved digestion and metabolism
- Increased mental clarity
- Reduced inflammation
- Resetting your digestive system
- Improved performance
- Losing weight
Detoxification for Athletes
As an elite athlete, you’ll not only want to take on a cleanse from time to time, you’ll want to do it responsibly. Detoxification for athletes requires a different approach from those who don’t compete. For instance, going on an all-liquid diet can be challenging for an endurance athlete. After all, where are you getting your energy?
Athletes should definitely consider elimination as part of a smart detox. Cutting out gluten, refined sugars, dairy, processed foods, and alcohol will go a long way to ridding your body of toxins. Smoothies and juices are a good way to get energy and the appropriate mix of macronutrients in an easily digestible format. Of course, water is essential during a cleanse, and even more so for an active athlete. You may also choose to do a short-term cleanse, as opposed to something that’s a full month.
Exercising on a detox that’s specifically formatted for an athlete is possible, but you wouldn’t want to compete at that point. However, once your cleanse is complete, you’ll find that you’re ready to really up your performance. Plus, the change in diet helps you to lose weight and get over stalls you may be experiencing.
Research and Be Smart
While detoxification is a great way to clean out your digestive system and enjoy gains in your training, you should be smart about how you take it on. Do your research. Consult with a specialist. Listen to your body. Only then will you be able to reap the full benefits of a detoxification.
Questions about how you can incorporate detoxification into your goals as an elite athlete? Schedule your initial consultation! I specialize in supporting athletes and preparing them for competition.
We’ve long heard of the hormonal issues that women face as they enter into midlife. But it’s only been recently that we’ve begun to hear more about how men are affected as well. We all have hormones, and as we age, their levels can change. This results in fluctuations in energy and libido, as well as affecting our ability to build and retain muscle. You could choose to replenish hormone levels with supplements, but a more natural approach may stem from your gut. That’s right, along with everything else associated with our digestive system, gut health affects hormones as well.
The Role of Hormones
Hormones are messengers in the body, and they dictate many of its activities. Originating in the endocrine glands, hormones are secreted directly into the bloodstream. They travel through the body in search of receptor, sharing their intended message. Hormones are powerful messengers; they control the function of many organs and affect the process of growth, development, sex, and reproduction. Most hormones are derived from proteins, although some are steroids and derived from cholesterol.
Changes in Hormones and Their Effects
Hormones fluctuate naturally during a lifetime, specifically during puberty and again as we enter into our 50s. This midlife change is when men and women experience andropause and menopause. In addition to aging, many other aspects can affect our hormonal balance. These include diet, exercise, toxins in the body, and stress.
During midlife, hormone production moves from the endocrine glands by the adrenal glands, which are seriously affected by diet and stress. When adrenals get run down, we experience a number of negative effects, including loss of bone, muscle mass, and libido. A hormonal imbalance also puts us at risk for chronic illness and autoimmune disease as our immune systems are compromised.
The gut is home to a host of bacteria—some good and some bad. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that help regulate mood, optimize blood sugar, support the immune system, and boost metabolism. Interestingly, probiotics also influence hormones. Nourishing those friendly flora in the gut microbiome helps hormones stay in check, even through the midlife changes we all experience.
There are number of hormones in the body to take note of, many of which can be measured with a simple blood test. Some of the key areas to look at include the following:
Cortisol is released during times of stress and is related to inflammation. Probiotics help keep cortisol in check.
Estrogen levels are affected by digestion, so it’s no surprise that good belly bacteria can have a direct effect.
Insulin regulates blood sugar, and studies show that probiotics promote optimal insulin levels.
Testosterone, like estrogen, is found in both men and women. It affects libido and energy levels, and research shows that essential bacteria can increase testosterone levels.
Control Your Hormones with Improved Gut Health
If you feel that your hormone levels are out of balance, you have many options to take control. Functional medicine subscribes to the idea of dealing with the cause first and then moving to the symptoms. In this case, you should take note of two things: adding a high-quality probiotic and changing your diet.
Keep in mind that probiotics and prebiotics work in harmony together to maintain a smooth working intestinal system. The majority of people cannot achieve their body’s needs with diet alone. The combination of diet and supplements will reap improved results that help your hormones stay in balance through all of life’s changes.
Questions about Gut Health and Hormones?
If you are curious about how gut health affects hormones, we can help. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about this important relationship and its influence on your overall health and wellbeing.
It should come as no surprise that daily exercise can make a huge impact in our lives. But is it necessary to spend hours at the gym or on the trail to achieve optimal health? While being a gym rat will help you achieve results faster, it’s actually not a requirement. Plus, hours of gym time often don’t work into a busy professional’s schedule. What, then, is the answer?
Daily Exercise Has Many Benefits
There’s no doubt at all that daily exercise is awesome for the mind, body, and soul. It can help you stay within your weight window, be strong, and feel energized for your busy lifestyle. There are also some other benefits you may not have considered.
Exercise has been proven to improve mood while decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. That’s because exercise gives your endorphins a boost, and those little guys help you feel happier. They also reduce stress and pain.
Get Stronger Bones
Resistance training, or weight lifting, is hugely beneficial for strengthening muscles. That part’s kind of obvious. But did you now it’s equally as important for bone strength? We naturally lose bone mass as we age, and weight training helps increase bone density. That means a smaller chance of developing osteoporosis.
Improve Your Health
Regular exercise has been proven to prevent or improve a variety of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Plus, that daily boost to your routine will increase your immune response, minimizing your risk of getting a cold while bouncing back faster if you do get sick.
How to Get 20 Minutes of Daily Exercise
Even for the busiest people, there are plenty of ways to sneak in a little bit of exercise during the day.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park farther from your destination and walk.
- Keep dumbbells in your office to do some weight training when it’s slow.
- Go for a walk outside or around your office building at lunch.
- Walk the dog, or kids, at least two times a day.
If you can carve out 20 minutes at the gym, here’s a simple routine that will help you reap all of the benefits of daily exercise:
- Three days a week (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), do a full-body workout consisting of 2–3 sets of 10–12 reps for all major body parts: shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, back, abs, legs, and calves. (Here’s a good guide to get you started.)
- Three days a week (maybe Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), do 20 minutes on the treadmill, stair-stepper, or elliptical. Make it more challenging by throwing in hills or intervals; you can also increase the resistance.
- On Sundays, wake up and do 20 minutes of yoga and full-body stretching to get you ready for the new week.
If Exercise Seems Like Too Much
If even thinking about incorporating a 20-minute daily exercise routine in your life sounds like too much for you, there might be other factors at play. Chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and other autoimmune issues can make it next to impossible to work out on a regular basis. But there is hope.
Contact Rich Jacobs at My Health Detective to schedule your initial consultation, during which time we’ll determine what’s keeping you from getting all of the benefits of daily exercise and holding you back from your full potential.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so get going!
There’s some misalignment in our lives. It’s 2017, and we know so much about our health and diets—more than ever before—yet we still have ready access to fast foods and processed meals. While we may know more, we don’t always act on that knowledge. And that’s unfortunate, because our lack of focus in doing what’s best for our bodies may be affecting us through poor digestion and other gut issues.
Common Medical Conditions Can Be Tied to Poor Digestion
It may surprise you to learn that some of the most common medical conditions hospitals and clinics treat today deal with poor digestion. Whether bloating, heartburn, constipation, or gas, these are all tied to your digestive system.
Short of having pains in your gut and/or bathroom issues, how could you possibly know that you have poor digestion? There are definitely some key indicators.
1. Bad Breath
Bad breath can be caused by many things, but since your mouth is linked to digestion, that might be the culprit. Even if you brush, mouthwash, and chew gum—and still stink—look to a root cause. Halitosis can be the result of bacteria in your throat being thrown off balance. It becomes even worse after eating something sweet, as the bacteria feeds off of the sugar.
2. Body Odor
Poor digestion causes imbalances with the bacteria in your digestive tract. In addition to the chemicals made from the digestion process causing bad breath, the odor is also absorbed into the body and then emitted through your skin when you sweat. That can turn you into “that stinky guy” at the office, even after using deodorant, cologne, or perfume.
3. Tiredness Following Meals
Does every meal make you feel like you’ve just eaten a hearty Thanksgiving feast and need a nap? It might be due to a sluggish digestive tract. After eating, your body has to use energy to digest all of that food. When your chemicals and bacteria are out of whack, your body has to divert even more energy to your gut. And that can leave you feeling completely drained after eating.
4. Acne and Skin Conditions
Many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea, actually begin in your digestive system. While these conditions seem completely unrelated to your gut, it truly is where they start. If you are having trouble digesting fat, you probably have itchy and flaky skin. A lack of certain vitamins in your diet can lead to acne and leave your skin with an unnatural, unhealthy look.
5. Difficulty Maintaining Weight
When weight fluctuates—either up or down—it could be a by-product of poor digestion. Your body may not be processing the nutrients in your food as effectively as it should be. And that shows up on the scale.
Most people experiencing some of these problems might not think anything is wrong at all because they seem so normal. People tend to write off acne, body odor, or feeling tired after meals to just getting older or generally being out of shape.
It’s important to pay attention to the signs your body is telling you. That’s the joy of functional medicine: While traditional medical professionals may not think anything of the above symptoms, functional medicine practitioners know better. The way you process food—and how your body reacts—is a sign that your diet needs to change.
Schedule your initial consultation with us to get insight into your poor digestion. We get to the root cause so you can live life to the fullest.