Category Archives: Internal functions

When is the ripe time to eat fruit?

It is summer season with lots of light and warm weather. Because of that nature starts offering us a lot of amazing fruits. Fresh, sun-ripened and bursting with flavor, this is a good time for all things fruit. Fruits are very high in nutrients, vitamins and anti-oxidants. This makes them a great addition to any kind of diet.

Is there ever a bad time to eat fruit? Well actually, yes! Fruits are very easily broken down by our digestive system, and so they pass through our gut very quickly. This is a good thing, because it makes all the nutrients that they contain very easily available for our body. But, because they are broken down into their smaller parts so quickly, what happens if there is a big roadblock in the way?

What do I mean by that? Because fruits contain a lot of fruit sugar, it is good that they can go through our system swiftly and get absorbed into our bloodstream. (Think of an athlete eating a banana during a match for instance. It is quick fuel.) Things that take a long time for our digestive system to break down are proteins (in particular animal) and fats. (I bet you have never seen an athlete gulf down a heavy burger with extra sauce and fries during a game!) This means that if you just had a heavier meal with lots of meat and/or fat, like at a BBQ for instance, your digestive system will be working very hard to process all of it. This type of meal will take a lot longer to process than something like fruit or vegetables.

The best way is to eat fruit on their own, or with some vegetables. Eat them as a snack or perhaps 20-30min before eating something else. That is usually how long it takes for the fruit to pass through your stomach. Fruit usually mix very well with vegetables as they are also fairly easy to digest. So, if you want to add some fruit to a salad or in your smoothie, go for it. It should not be a problem.

But back to the roadblock question. Imagine you have just been to a BBQ and you had quite a heavy meal. Because fruits are delicious and in season, you think you are doing something good for your health by finishing the meal with a fruit salad. A short while after you are not really feeling very well, and your tummy might swell up a little or a lot.

That bloating of your gut comes from the fruit sugar not being able to pass through the stomach as quickly as it usually does. This is because all of the protein and fat have not been digested yet and are “in the way”.  As the fruit hangs out in your warm body for much longer than it should, containing all that fruit sugar, it simply starts to ferment. That fermentation produces gas, and this is what makes your stomach feel bloated and swollen.

Because of this it is not ideal to have a heavier meal and then finishing it off with fruit. The exception to the rule would be pineapple, because it contains a lot of cool enzymes that actually helps with digestion. However, if you ask me, I would still not have a whole lot of pineapple at the end of a larger meal. But, as always, try it out for yourself and pay attention to how you feel.

I like to snack on fruit, like an apple, while I’m preparing lunch or dinner. (Choose organic as much as you can.) That way you have 20-30 min between the fruit and the meal. It’s an easy way to set yourself up for good digestion.

 

Choose the ripe time to eat your fruit, and enjoy the weekend!
😉

 



Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, MD
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Surgery ahead? You need a strong strategy!

Recently a couple of my friends have been needing surgery. One had torn ligaments in her knee, another one had a damaged disc in the lower back, and the third one crashed on his bike and broke his collarbone. This brought upon a discussion of “can you do anything to make things easier before and after having surgery?”  Well, YES!

Anytime you need surgery, whether you are having a smaller problem dealt with, like dental surgery, or something larger like a knee replacement, preparing the body for what is about to come will have a huge impact on your recovery.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
-Benjamin Franklin

No matter how good the surgeon is, having surgery will always be a very traumatic and unnatural event for the body. This is not the time to slack off, lying on the couch all day, feeling sorry for oneself and eating crappy food. Think of this as your mini Olympics. The stronger and better prepared you are for the event, the better you will do.

 

MobilityWOD has done a really cool and easy to follow infographic on the subject. I strongly suggest you check it out, and also, why not share it with your friends. You never know when you might need it.

Of course, you never plan to have an accident. Especially not one that requires surgery. In this case you probably will not have any time to prepare for the surgery. However, you can still do the most with your rehab, post surgery. MobilityWOD has another great infographic for that as well. You can check it out here.

Another thing to keep in mind (see what I did there) that is very powerful, is using visualization or meditation. Do not underestimate the power of your mind. Think about what you want to happen, and visualize a great result. Do this preferably in short increments during many times of the day, to set the stage for the outcome that you want. If you are not familiar with any of these techniques, I think the app Headspace is a great way to start. You can read more about it here.

I hope you will not need any of these strategies, but that you will find them useful in case you ever do.
Take care of yourselves, and have a great weekend!

😉

 

 

 



https://www.mobilitywod.com/infographic/presurgery_checklist/
https://www.mobilitywod.com/infographic/surgery-rehab-checklist/

Should Athletes Use Supplements? A Comprehensive Study

When we are trying to perform at our very best as a pro athlete or as an amateur, taking supplements seems to be the thing to do. But, is that the best way to go? And, what is that really based on? The British Journal of Sports Medicine just published a super comprehensive study regarding all things about supplementation and the high-performance athlete.

If you are currently using supplements whether you are an athlete or not, I suggest you read the full study. It also contains some great graphs and specific supplementation information.

My personal view is that you should always start with a whole foods nutrient dense diet, and base your nutritional intake on that. In case you feel the need for a supplementation, do your very best in finding out where that company is sourcing its ingredients, so that you really get what you are after, and not a bunch of bad for you add-ins.

If you don’t have time to read the complete study right now, below are some excerpts to keep in mind from the study.

"Performance-enhancing supplements should be considered only where a strong evidence base supports their use as safe, legal and effective, and ideally after adequacy of sports nutrition dietary practices is ensured."

“Athletes are not immune to the inadequate eating practices or the increased nutrient loss/requirements found in some members of the general population and may even be at greater risk of deficiencies because of increased nutrient turnover or increased losses.”

“Adverse effects from the use of supplements may arise from a number of factors, including the safety and composition of the product per se and inappropriate patterns of use by athletes. Poor practices by athletes include the indiscriminate mixing and matching of many products without regard to total doses of some ingredients or problematic interactions between ingredients.”

Athletes and members of their support team should be aware of the regulations that govern the manufacture and marketing of supplements. According to the 1994 DSHEA (https://ods.od.nih.gov/About/DSHEA_Wording.aspx) passed by US Congress, nutritional supplements sold in the USA that do not claim to diagnose, prevent or cure disease are not subject to regulation by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). Similar regulations apply in most other countries, where supplements are regulated in the same way as food ingredients and are therefore not subject to the stringent regulations that are applied to the pharmaceutical industry. This means that there is no requirement to prove claimed benefits, no requirement to show safety with acute or chronic administration, no quality assurance of content, and liberal labelling requirements.”

“The biggest concern for athletes who compete under an antidoping code (usually the World Anti-Doping Code, as published by WADA) is that supplements can contain prohibited substances that result in an antidoping rule violation (ADRV). Athletes—and their support teams—may be at risk for an ADRV if there is evidence that they have used or attempted to use products containing ingredients on the Prohibited List (www.wada.ama.org). A common problem is the recording of an adverse analytical finding (AAF) of a prohibited substance in a urine sample (‘positive drug test’) as a result of supplement use.”

“For these athletes in particular, even if the ingestion of the prohibited substance was unintentional, the rules of strict liability within the World Anti-Doping Code mean that an AAF will be recorded, and may mean the loss of medals won or records set, and financial sanctions as well as temporary or permanent suspension from competition. It also damages the athlete’s reputation and may lead to loss of employment and income through failed sponsorship opportunities.”

“In deciding whether to use a supplement, athletes should consider all aspects of their maturation in, and preparation for, their event to ensure that the supplement under consideration provides an advantage that no other strategy can address. “

Conclusion

“Dietary supplements can play a small role in an athlete’s sports nutrition plan, with products that include essential micronutrients, sports foods, performance supplements and health supplements all potentially providing benefits. Some supplements, when used appropriately, may help athletes to meet sports nutrition goals, train hard, and stay healthy and injury-free. A few supplements can directly enhance competition performance. However, it takes considerable effort and expert knowledge to identify which products are appropriate, how to integrate them into the athlete’s sports nutrition plan, and how to ensure that any benefits outweigh the possible negative side effects, including the potential for an ADRV. A strict risk-benefit analysis involving a decision tree approach to the effectiveness, safety and risks should identify the small number of products that may benefit the athlete. Such an analysis requires the input of a well-informed sports nutrition professional.”

I hope that this article has given you some food for thought  😉
Have an amazing weekend!

 

 

 

 



http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/7/439.long

http://www.informed-sport.com/news/australian-supplements-survey-highlights-need-testing

https://www.wada-ama.org/en/media/news/2017-09/wada-publishes-2018-list-of-prohibited-substances-and-methods

 

Protect Your Internal Rain Forest This Way (2)

Last week we talked about the importance of protecting your internal rain forest – the microbiome. Below you will find some more specific examples on how to do that. But, isn’t it enough if I just take some probiotic tablets? Doesn’t that take care of things?

Introducing more of the good bacteria into your system aka probiotics, can be a very beneficial thing. However, these probiotics have a very short life span, so it’s not enough just to take a capsule with probiotics. You want to make sure that they survive, and that they can multiply. How do you do that? Feed them the right food, aka prebiotics.

The following are some amazing prebiotics. Try to include as many of them as you can daily and weekly, as they help your good bacteria to live well and do their work.
Tomatoes, Radishes, Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Carrots, Garlic, Jerusalem artichoke

 

Remove, or avoid as much as possible the following, as they feed the bad bacteria and create an imbalance and inflammation in your gut.
Processed and Packaged foods
Hydrogenated and Trans fats (especially fried foods)
All sugars

 

If you want to read more about this topic, I recommend reading “The Microbiome Diet” by Raphael Kellman. It is a great book, with plenty of background as to why, without making it a “heavy” read.

There are no quick fixes for optimal health. Just do your best daily, and with time even small implementations will have a great impact.
😉


The Microbiome Diet by Raphael Kellman, MD
Photo Nathalie Visser
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Is Your Internal Rain Forest Collapsing? (1)

No matter what kind of health problem that you may be dealing with, chances are that your internal rain forest, the microbiome, is a major root cause. The microbes in our gut does not only help us with good digestion, they also have a very fast connection to our brain via the Vagus Nerve. This influences how we feel, happy or depressed.

 1. the microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body).
“we depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive: a microbiome that protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins”
2. the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in a particular environment.
“understanding the microbiome—human, animal, and environmental—is as important as the human genome”

Serotonin, the feel good chemical in our body, is to 90% produced in our gut, not in our brain. Bad microbes can give us bad food cravings as they love sugar. These cravings are often so strong they are beyond your self control. No wonder the gut is also being called our second brain.

Unfortunately our own internal microbiome is collapsing more and more. This is due to more pollution around us and poor food choices that does not contain any healthy pro or pre biotics. The worst offenders to stay away from is any kind of hydrogenated oil, fried food, processed food and sugar. These all feed the bad bacteria in the gut and creates a very negative feedback loop.

Instead focus on whole foods, especially fermented foods and raw vegetables. These help to create a healthy microbiome or “rain forest”. Below is a very interesting talk about how the microbiome works and how it can influence us. I hope that you will find it interesting.

Wishing you all a great weekend!  😉

 

 



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Kids in Hospital After Eating Strawberries!

Summer is just around the corner, and in almost any supermarket that you will walk into, you will be greeted by plenty of strawberries. Never mind that they are not in season yet. Never mind that they can make you really sick, or even put you in the hospital! Strawberries are not all safe to eat, so let’s take a closer look at one of the most beloved berries in the World and find out more.*

Strawberries are a great food because among many things they are a low-allergen food, which means that it is very rare for people to have an allergic or intolerance reaction to them.[1] Even so, many people think that they have a strawberry allergy. How can that be?

Last year one of my clients told me the story of how he ended up having to take his young daughter to the emergency room on a Monday, after her symptoms of skin rashes, and itching had gradually become really bad over the weekend. Long story short, it was one of the first weekends where strawberries were being sold, and they had bought a tonne. The daughter, who loves strawberries, had eaten her fare share every day that weekend, and it turned out that she had an allergic reaction to the pesticides that were sprayed on the strawberries, NOT the actual strawberries. Let me say that again – it was the PESTICIDES.

Because strawberries are such fragile fruits, they are sprayed heavily to keep them looking fresh as long as possible. Their skin is also very thin and porous, which means that they soak up anything that has been sprayed on them. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can just rinse off. Strawberries is the very top offender on ewg’s dirty dozen list that I talked about previously. To read even more about the pesticides used on strawberries got to www.ewg.org and type in “strawberries” in the search box, and you will have plenty to read.

Kelly Dorfman, author of Cure Your Child With Food, guides us to ask the following questions regarding your child, or yourself, to help figure out if you are reacting “to something besides the food itself, most likely pesticide residues, artificial flavors or colors or genetically modified food”[ 2]

  1. Do you, or your child get symptoms when eating strawberries sometimes, but not always? When you eat the strawberries at grandmas house you have no reaction, but when you are eating them at home (from supermarket) you get, for example, an itchy throat.
  2. Do you or your child get red cheeks or rashes that seem impossible to attribute to any one food?
  3. Do you or your child complain of an itchy throat or mouth?
  4. Do you or your child seem to be allergic to something, but nothing comes up in allergy testing? (symptoms could be itching, skin rashes, swelling, wheezing, nasal congestion, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness)?
  5. Are you or your child very sensitive to sounds, lights, temperature or smells? This could be an indication of a more delicate nervous system, which will be even more sensitive to toxins.

So, what can you do? Start by paying attention to the questions and symptoms above. Learn about the dirty dozen from ewg. And regarding strawberries I think the best cause of action for your health is to plant them yourself, buy them organic, or simply let it be.

Enjoy the sunshine and your organic strawberries 🙂

 


*This article came out last year, but it is yet again relevant, and so I am re-posting it with some minor alterations.
[1,2] Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND: Cure Your Child With Food, p.256, 269
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Photo by Jessica Ruscello
Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Same Shoulder Pain – Two Different Reasons

Last week we talked about different strategies for dealing with a similar problem. Depending on if the origin of the problem is external or internal, our strategy to improve should reflect that. So, lets take a closer look at two different people with “the same” shoulder pain.

Ben shows up at my practice complaining of pain in his right shoulder. It bothers him at work (he works in an office) and during sports. He has taken some painkillers that helps a little bit, but not completely. He also wakes up in the night sometimes because the shoulder bothers him. He does a few quick stretches at the gym, but not always.

Upon further examination it’s clear that all the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder are very tight. When I ask him further about his sports, it turns out that he has increased his workout routine lately, and in particular he is doing a lot more push-ups. I ask him to show me how he does a push-up, and it is clear that he is lacking the proper technique. He is not supporting his shoulders properly, and therefore putting an unnecessary burden on the rotator cuffs. For a while the rotator cuff muscles managed to compensate, but now they have reached a point of exhaustion – enter pain.

Ben’s homework included learning proper push-up technique. He was shocked to find out he had been doing it wrong for all these years. He also learned proper mobility work  for the shoulder, working with a foam roller and lacrosse ball for 10-15 minutes a day. Being strong without being flexible, is a road to injury. With a few complimentary deep tissue massage session he was “as good as new” within a few weeks.

Roy shows up at my practice complaining of pain in his right shoulder. It bothers him at work (he works in an office) and during sports. He has taken some painkillers but it doesn’t seem to help. He wakes up in the night, because the shoulder and neck bothers him, often around 3am. Sometimes he does a few quick stretches at the gym.

Roy’s rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder are very tight. He has not changed his work out routine in the past few months. He has dark, puffy circles under his eyes. The area around the lower end of his right rib-cage is a bit tender to the touch, and there is a slight metallic smell to his skin. These are all signs of an over burdened liver. I check his push-up technique, and it is fine.

He tells me that he drinks about 1-1,5 L of water a day, which he thinks is good. Further questioning reveals that he has had a lot of extra events at work  in the last few months, which includes “wining and dining”. As he feels very tired he drinks coffee throughout the day to keep himself going. Part from the “wining and dining” in the evening, he is quite rushed during the day and tends to eat quickly on the go, mostly carbs, like sandwiches and sweet stuff. All of these things have put a tremendous burden on his liver, which indirectly through shared nerve pathways sends pain into his shoulder.

Roy’s homework is to learn about proper hydration, diuretic beverages and basic liver function. He downloads the app to re-educate himself about how much and what he drinks, so that he can adjust accordingly. He was surprised to calculate that his baseline of drinking water is almost 3 Liter a day. He stops taking painkillers as they increase the burden on the liver. He reduces the intake of caffeine and alcohol, and notice that he starts sleeping a lot better.
He also learned proper mobility work  for the shoulder, working with a foam roller and lacrosse ball for 10-15 minutes a day, to speed up the recovery. With a few complimentary deep tissue massage session he was “as good as new” within a few months.

I hope these two examples has given you some ideas and food for thought in terms of problem solving. Making a change takes time and effort, but what could be more important in the long run, than investing in your own health?   😉

 


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Don’t kill an ant with an atom bomb!

Rather than just doing even more of the same, maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy?!
The way I see it, the origin* of your pain can be located either externally (think muscles and ligaments) or it can be internally (think organ, organ-systems and nerves), even though the symptoms look the same, like back pain.

It is important to know where the origin of your pain is, because how you go about treating the problem should be different depending on what most likely caused it.

How to tell the difference?
Let’s say you overdid it in your last work out session with 100 pushups. Or maybe you spent the whole day digging in the garden. The next day you will have a hard time getting out of bed, your back hurts and you are in agony.

If this is an external problem (muscles, ligaments) you will feel better if you go into the sauna, take a hot bath, get some massage, and do some mobility work. You may not feel back to awesome the first couple of days, and even though your recovery is not a straight line at 45 degrees on the graph, you are constantly and consistently improving. Like on graph 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graph 2 on the other hand represents more of an internal problem. You think it is an external problem because your back hurts, so you treat it just like in the example above with a hot bath, sauna, massage, mobility work etc.

But, you don’t get much relief. Maybe it feels a bit better for a day or two, or maybe even a week, but then you are right back where you started. This is when you need to ask yourself how is my digestive system really working? How are my kidneys and liver doing? What can I do to help my digestive system and organs?

Did you know that:
   Constipation can cause low back pain and often a deep pain into the hip.
   If you are dehydrated your kidneys don't like it and you could feel tenderness and pain in your low back.
   An overwhelmed liver will indirectly cause pain in your right shoulder.
   Tired kidneys will refer pain to the area of your shoulders and neck.
   Any kind of digestive issue can also cause neck pain via the X cranial nerve, aka the Vagus nerve.
   The pancreas, our super hero of blood sugar regulation will refer pain in between the shoulder blades.

 

If you have already seen a couple of different physios, and a chiropractor, and so on and it doesn’t seem to have helped, finding yet one more will not “fix it”. By now you should have gathered that their working tools are not suited for your particular issue.

If you have had your problems for a longer period of time, and you cannot solve them with your usual methods, it’s time to be smart and start looking at the functions inside the body. Take responsibility for your own health, get involved in the solution, and figure out what you can do daily to help yourself.

Next week we’ll discuss this further by looking at two different case studies.

Don’t kill an ant with an atom bomb. Think more like a ninja, and make a better targeted effort instead.   😉

 



*The origin of your pain does not have to be (and seldom are) where you feel the pain, which is the symptom. If you only put band aids on the symptom but never look for the root cause (the origin) you might never solve the problem at hand. Assuming you didn’t just break your leg in an accident, then of course your pain is where the problem is!
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1 Organ, +500 functions, Get to Know It!

Our body is made up of different complex systems. Therefore, you shouldn’t necessarily single out and look at the importance of just the one organ. But, in this case I believe we can.

Our amazing liver has more than 500 different functions in the body! If the liver is not able to work as it should, all of the functions that it is involved with will suffer. Other organs will try to pick up the slack for a while, but ultimately they will fail. This over time can make our bodies completely exhausted and sick.

I believe that it’s hard to take good care of something that we don’t understand. So, why not get a little better familiar with our super hero the liver? This short video gives an excellent summary of what’s going on. And if you are new to this blog, you can read a bit more about the liver here and here.

Let’s keep on learning to better understand our body! 😉

 

 

 


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Constipation – Where does it all start?

Last weeks post created some interesting conversations! So, if constipation is an end problem, where does it all start? It all has to do with proper digestion.

Digestion is a process moving from North to South. Meaning, it starts up top, moves through a “long tube”, the digestive tract, and comes out at the very end. This means that if things are not working well from the upper end of the tube, it will just be worse the further down the tube we go.

So, why don’t we go to the very first step of digestion and see what we can do to improve the situation on a daily basis. Do you think that the first step is when the food enters your mouth? Close, but that’s not it.

The very first step of digestion actually happens in your brain! When we see, smell or think of the food we are about to eat we trigger a response in the brain. This is an important step because the brain in turn sends signals to get the digestive tract ready for food. That’s why for instance we start salivating before we eat, and it also activates our stomach juices.

However, this can only happen when we are in a relaxed state, which is run by the parasympathetic nervous system aka “the rest and digest” system. If we are hurrying and feeling a bit stressed, it is the sympathetic nervous system that is turned on aka “the fight and flight” system. When this system is turned on we are not able to digest food very well. It makes a lot of sense to the body, because whenever the fight and flight mode is up and running, the body’s main concern is immediate survival.

We have gotten so used to being in constant stress, running from one place to the next that we now perceive this state as normal. It is not. Therefore, if you want to start your digestion off right you need to activate your parasympathetic, rest and digest, system. This can easily be done by sitting down at the table and taking at least 3 deep breaths, preferably more, before eating. By allowing your body to slow down and relax, it is now able to start the digestion process in a great way. Whether you are religious or not, saying grace before eating actually makes a lot of sense from a digestive point of view.

It also goes without saying that eating while driving, walking, or hurrying in between meetings is not going to be a great idea. To improve upon your digestion from the very start the principle is simple and easy to perform. Anyone can take 3 deep breaths before eating. We just have to retrain ourselves to slow down and relax before we eat.

Take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy your food! 😉

 

 

 


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0025459/
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