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.
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.
We’ve all been there: We have a glorious gastronomic feast on our plates—that represents a huge indulgence—and we devour it. Even when our stomach is full, we continue to eat. After all, it’s just so delicious! But there’s a reason your stomach is grumbly afterward; it has to do with your gut issues and the signals you should be heeding.
New Research on Gut Issues
When it comes to the gut, there are all kinds of challenges you could be facing. Most seem to get lumped together into irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. According to new research out of Australia, IBS is the correct term to encompass a number of gut-related issues, including people who are genetically predisposed to gut issues, patients who develop conditions after a gut infection, and people who have a chronic gut infection that causes the symptoms.
In the same research study, a particular gene was identified with IBS, making some people more predisposed to it than others. They also found a potential link between IBS and mental illnesses due to the inflammation that starts in the gut and can also occur in the brain.
How to Know You Have Issues
While every person reacts to gut issues differently, there are a few telltale signs that you might have a problem.
- Abdominal pain that is recurring or happens after eating certain foods or at certain times of the day.
- Feeling bloated or gassy after eating or other activities.
- Diarrhea and/or constipation, often occurring shortly after eating trigger foods.
Of course, all of the above symptoms could just be something in passing, but it’s when you have challenges over a period of time that you should be paying attention. For most people living with gut issues and IBS, the condition is chronic.
Treatment Options for IBS and Gut Issues
Since the causes of IBS and many gut issues are unclear, most physicians focus on treating and alleviating the symptoms first. And that could lead those who are suffering through months—or even years—of trying different drugs to find relief.
Alternatively, you could look at the source of your gut issues.
In the field of functional medicine, we shift from disease focused to patient focused. Each person is different; therefore, each approach is different. With functional medicine, we’ll look at all components of lifestyle, in addition to symptoms.
Since diet is often at the core of any kinds of gut issues, functional medicine often starts there. What really differentiates this way of thinking from the traditional allopathic mindset is in getting to the core of the matter rather than putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms.
Are You Suffering with Gut Issues?
If you have chronic gut issues and IBS, there’s no reason to suffer any longer. Your gut really is trying to tell you something; you just have to take a moment and listen.
You can find relief—and preferably without having to take a number of pills every day. Contact us at My Health Detective. We’ll work with you to determine what the true cause of your gut issues is and how we can turn them around. You don’t need to suffer any longer.
Sherrie Carnicle discusses how mood effects gut health.
Is a Gluten Free Diet bad for You?
With the release of another research study done to denounce gluten and the gluten free dieters I felt I needed to chime in about this topic.
I’m actually humored by the types of propaganda being promoted such as:
“Dangers of a gluten free diet”
“Most People Shouldn’t Eat Gluten Free”
“The data prove it: Choosing to go gluten-free is bad for you”
“Here’s How a Gluten-Free Diet is Actually Bad for You”
“How a Gluten-Free Diet Can Be Harmful”
Really? Can we be any more dramatic about this topic? Honestly, I don’t want to go into the science of what gluten is and how it effects the body because this is about giving you relevant information and reading beyond the headlines.
These articles reference either statements found on PubMed or research that doesn’t tell you the whole story. Am I saying the research is wrong? No, the research performed revealed exactly what the researchers wanted. What happened is that media ran with a half-ass statement based on their own interpretations.
Let’s use the most recent study published. “Long Term Gluten Consumption in Adults without Celiac Disease and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: prospective cohort study”. I’ll spare you the over-scientific details and get to the point. This study was done over 26 years using almost 110,000 subjects, male and female. Good so far! Incredible actually. The researchers gathered their data from estimated, self-reported questionnaires that were mailed to the subjects. There’s quality control issue number one. Speaking of controls, there were none. Yeah, no controls!
If you remember anything from high school science, you need a control and a test subject for research to be validated. This is just a standard. The Journal of the American Medical Association and its readers usually boo-hoo any study that isn’t a double blind placebo, the gold standard. The FDA doesn’t pass a pharmaceutical through unless it is a double-blind placebo. And even then…well that’s a whole different topic of discussion.
Back to the study. After tallying these so-called results, here is the exact verbiage from the study:
Conclusion: Long term dietary intake of gluten was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease. However, the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.
Great, so gluten is not associated with heart disease. I’m not sure anyone was disputing that fact. However, they continue to state that avoiding gluten or grains may result in beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. This may be true, but isn’t proven. Then they continue to state this assumption as fact. Here’s where it feels like the Wild West and anyone can just start making assumptions.
If you choose to read the entire study, you will find that the correlation they are talking about with whole grains being detrimental to heart health has to do with fiber intake. So, are the authors stating that the only way to get fiber is through whole grains? What about vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc? Is there no fiber in these foods and no nutrient density?
You see, these claims are empty and without support. It is lazy media or whatever classification you want to put it in that are not telling you the whole story. According to them, a burger bun has more beneficial nutrients to your diet than eating unprocessed, real, whole foods.
There is a reason why almost everyone feels better on a gluten free diet. That is because gluten has been linked to autoimmune disease, leaky gut, inflammation and more. I’m not going to re-write the wheel on this one since Dr. Amy Myers did a great job explaining it all here. http://www.amymyersmd.com/2017/02/3-important-reasons-give-gluten-autoimmune-disease/
Please, do yourself a favor and don’t get manipulated by empty claims. Click on the links that they are basing their articles on and read the actual content! The actual studies are very specific and media blows it out of proportion.
I usually don’t write articles like this, but this topic is a hot button and I’m tired of seeing good people trying to be healthy only to be further confused by falsified reports. You know reports such as: eggs were bad for you, and beef, and saturated fat, and butter. Everything that was bad is now good. Just eat real foods and you can ignore the chatter.