4 Ways to Save Your Joints

When you are dedicated to your training and putting in the hours to achieve your goals then there is nothing more frustrating than joint pain. It almost feels like your body is punishing you for working hard. No fair, right!

Rather than make excuses about your pain or backing off on your training you may want to consider some new techniques to mitigate the damage from these patterns of overuse.

1. Recover Smarter (Hit the Brake Pedal)

2. Focus on form

3. Make intensity your new volume

4. Hit the Supplements Aisle

1 . Recover Smarter (Hit the Brake Pedal)
Training hard without the proper recovery techniques is bound to beat you up and becomes unsustainable long term. Make time for massage, foam rolling, stretching, yoga or mobility sessions, sleep, and any other recovery methods that can improve your performance. When you train at high intensity you have a tendency to kick in the sympathetic(fight or flight) nervous system.  This aspect of your nervous system is great for survival but not designed to help you recover.  One of the most beneficial thing you can do is stimulate your parasympathetic nervous with these recovery techniques to let your body’s natural healing mechanisms kick in.  Chiropractic care is an efficient way to get your foot off the gas pedal allowing the body to heal and recover.  You can get insight on how you are recovering by measuring your heart rate variability (HRV).  One device a lot of our coaches and athletes use is Whoop. You can learn more about Whoop on their website:

Click photo above

2. Focus on form
If you are training often and hard then even the slightest inefficiencies in your movement can turn into nagging injuries over time. Before you put in all that hard work you owe it to yourself to work with an experienced coach to refine your movement. You will make progress faster and stay healthy in the process. Slow down, not every day is a competition.

3. Make intensity your new volume
Sometimes the body simply needs a break from volume. All athletes in any sport go through periods of alternating intensity and volume throughout the year. They have different rhythms and protocols for preseason, in-season, post-season, and off-season training. Try backing off on the volume of your training and focusing on higher intensity pieces instead. For lifters, this could mean performing fewer sets or reps and using a higher load, shorter rest times, or a faster tempo. Runners might try lower mileage with weeks and adding a sprint workout 1-2 times per week instead.

4. Give your body what it needs to repair itself
There are tons of great supplements that can help with joint health. Fish oil and omega 3’s provide a healthy inflammatory response in the body amongst many other health benefits. Glucosamine and Chondroitin provide the building blocks for joint repair. Tart Cherry Juice extract has been shown to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Give those a try to start!

Don’t let joint pain stop you from moving and doing the things you love!

Dr. John Vincent

3 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak abs and glutes, also referred to as the lower cross syndrome. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

 

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.
  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors. Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg.  
  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back.

Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it and always consult your doctor before trying new things.

Wes Wilson

How To Optimize Your Warm-up

Remember in high school when you would sit on the gym floor organized into lines of ten, and the gym coach would walk by the rows and take the role? I remember like it was yesterday! Gym was my favorite class (makes a lot of sense, right?!?!). After that, they would have you stand up, do 10-20 jumping jacks followed by some useless toe touch hamstring stretches. This was just enough time for them to get the cage of balls to roll out and unleash the craziness of gym class. Man, I miss those days!

 

Fast forward down the road post high school, and you probably took the same approach to your workout warm-ups, thinking it was doing you good. Shucks, you may have even done some extra stretching (3 whole minutes) before working out to make sure you were ready.

 

I hate to break it to you, but that’s not a warm-up. At least not one that is going to be beneficial.

 

If you want to optimize your workouts and get the most out of them, you need to give the warm-up, gasp, and cool down its due diligence. Here’s why warming up prepares the body physically and mentally for the day’s training.

 

On the physical side, warm-in up allows time for the blood circulated to your vital organs to be slightly diverted and better allocated to the periphery and muscles. This diversion of blood supply allows the muscles to warm-up due to more blood volume and heat generated through movement. It also allows your heart rate to gradually increase, which sets off a cascade of physical responses, including glucose release into the bloodstream for ready consumption for the muscles to do work better.

 

Additionally, a proper warm-up primes the nervous system. Which may be the coolest part (at least to me) of how the body responds to warming-up. ln less than a blink of an eye, your nervous system can shift from cruising through your day like a mini-van into a high powered sports car. Pretty cool huh?!?!?! This is the reason you hear stories of moms lifting cars off babies. But to maximize the process, taking time to warm-up is key to reducing injury.

 

Finally, warming-up up and mobilizing help prime the range of motion used in the workout. This helps reduce strain on the muscles and connective tissues and is how it helps reduce injury. But did you know that when you’re warming up, you are helping to prime the movement patterns and increase your performance? That’s right! When you go through the movements as part of your specific warm-up, you are reminding yourself of the movement patterns. The brain is subconsciously rolling through all the experience you have with that movement and starts to look for the optimal movement patterns successful in the past. Pretty amazing how the connection between the brain and the body works. And oh… if you want to optimize that connection, you should consider regular chiropractic adjustments to keep the superhighway of the nervous system, the spine, in proper alignment.

 

As a review, you will want to properly warm-up and mobilize to get the most out of your workouts. Now let’s get into the way you carry it out!

 

Every time you warm-up it should be specific to the workout you plan to perform. This means that how you warm-up for a longer cardio-based workout is different than how you should warm-up for a heavy deadlift day. The for steps to optimizing your warm-up are:

 

General Warm-up – Mobilization – Movement Specific Warm-Up – Performance Priming

 

Here are the details for each.

 

General Warm-Up: Depending on your age, training age (how long you have been doing the activity – example CrossFit), and the intensity of the workout, it is best practices to use closed chain movement patterns that increase in intensity. This period of the warm-up should last at least three minutes but no more than ten. Closed chain movements are those that are repetitive in nature and are cyclical. Examples include walking, jogging, biking, or jump rope. Once your respiration rate is elevated slightly, its time to move to the mobilization phase.

 

Mobilization
Our workouts movements can be broken down into a few broad and overacting groups like squatting, lunging, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotation, or walking. To prime these movements, we need to consider the proper range of motion compared to our range of motion. For example, a squat should find us with our hips just below the top of the knees with the feet flat on the ground. If you are just shy, then performing some foam rolling will help release some tightness in the connective tissue and muscles. Additionally, performing a Dynamic Range of Motion drills for the hips will help release some of the tightness at the end ranges you have to further increase your ability to get to the squat requirements without pain or injury.

 

Movement Specific Warm-up
This is particularly important for fast movements or high skill movements that can be broken down into skills and drills. Examples include the Olympic lifts of the snatch and clean & jerk. These movements require balance, agility, and coordination of body movements at specific times of the moment. A movement specific warm-up for the snatch will include all the parts of the movement. For example, the Burgener warm-up created by a top-level Olympic Weightlifting Coach, Mike Burgeneris a series of 5 drills performed 8-12 times. Each drill is added to the next. Once completed, this movement specific warm-up helps guide the athlete through the entire movement.

 

Performance Priming
This final step is one that I coined over the past 20 years of coaching fitness and sports. The performance priming phase is where the athletes/members get a small dose of the workout to help prepare them mentally for what is about to come. This is the period where I guide folks to the actual training. An example would look like this;

 

Workout
5 Rounds for time:
3 Deadlifts at 225 lbs for males and 185 for female
Run 400m
5 Strict weighted pull-ups

 

The performance priming phase of the warm-up would look like this if you were in my class:
Take 8-10 minutes to help slowly build to workout weight in the deadlift. While you are walking back and forth between the weight stacks and your barbell, perform 1 strict pull-up and add weight each time you come back to the pull-up bar until you are at the weight you will use for the workout. Finally, run 100 meters, followed by 1 deadlift at your workout weight and three pull-ups at your workout weight. Then grab a sip and your sweat towel, and let’s get ready to go.

 

There you have it, the four phases of a proper workout to increase your performance and reduce injury risk. If you don’t want to think about all that, just come to one of the classes I coach during the week, and I’ll take care of everything for you 😉

 

Smitty

Tips For A Balanced Lower Body

After an intense workout of front squats or thrusters, you may have felt that burning pumped up sensation in your quads. Your pants are tighter and you can no longer put your phone and keys in your front pocket for fear of getting them stuck.
The quadriceps and hip flexor muscles on the front of your legs are responsible for extending the hip and knee joints. They have tremendous potential for growth and get a great workout from movements like front squats, step-ups, and walking lunges.

Having powerful quads is not a bad thing by any means. In fact, the greatest Olympic weightlifters, cyclists, and speed skaters have huge powerful quad muscles (the speed skaters always catch my eye with quad size!).

Some folks have very powerful quads but have issues recruiting the muscles of the posterior chain.  They allow the quads to handle all lower body movement. Having poor form can also contribute to you being quad dominant (majority of us are). If you are an athlete who notices that your weight is often in your toes you may be prone to this imbalance. If the coaches are always telling you to “get in your heels’ this is probably the correction they are cueing.

You’re much stronger on the backside comparable to the front side (Posterior VS. Anterior). The top priority in a training program should always be safety and function. That’s why using compound movements like squats and deadlifts provide excellent returns. In terms of strength building and promoting lean body mass they provide the most bang for your buck. People who focus too much on a single movement like squatting may be neglecting movement patterns that would keep them strong and healthy.

You should have an equal ratio of squat and lunge workouts to hinge and deadlift workouts. If you are quad dominant or lacking in the posterior chain department then that ratio should be 2 to 1 in favor of the hinge and pulling movements. As you are able to better recruit and develop the glutes and hamstrings then you can start to balance out the program you are following. Not only that but building a stronger posterior chain will make all of your lifts more powerful and you will look and feel better too!

Deadlifts, RDL’s, Kettlebell Swings, Good Mornings, Reverse Hypers, and Hip Thrusts are all excellent for beefing up those glutes and hamstrings. You can also adapt movements to make them more favorable to the posterior chain. Low bar back squats and box squat variations recruit more posterior chain than front squats do. Reverse lunges instead of forward or walking lunges will also be a better option to help you stay in your heels.

If it looks like you have a second kneecap then you might be in the running for quad dominance. Our training programs contain constant variance to make sure you are improving in all areas and eliminating weaknesses. Our coaches can help you through a series of assessments to determine what to focus on and how to get your body strong, healthy, and balanced.

Finding YOUR Workout of the Day

I’ve got a seemingly random question; If we were to jump into your car right now, how loud would your radio be playing? Chances are it’s at a level that isn’t too low or too loud. Sure, from time to time, you crank it up and sing loudly. At other times you turn it down when you’ve had a tough day at the office and just want to hear something soft to help reduce the stress of the day.

Now I want you to apply that same idea to the intensity of your workouts.

Some days you’re feeling like the Axl from Guns N’ Roses (feel free to fill in your front man and fantasy band here if it suits you), and you’re at a 10/10 on the intensity and feeling ready for whatever the workout may be. Kickass! Glad you’re ready to go hard, but not every workout should leave you in the fetal position gasping.

There is nothing, read that again, NOTHING wrong with turning the intensity down for a day if you’re not 100%. Maybe your nutrition was crap at the company luncheon, or your two-year-old has been having trouble sleeping, and it’s got you up at night (that’s me). Perhaps you’re in the gym for the 5th day in a row, and you usually come 3 days a week. Going hard for the sake of going hard may help relieve some stress mentally, but physically you’re doing a disservice to your progress. In fact, there is recent research to back this up.

Over the past decade, you have probably seen a large uptick in wearable technology to track physical activity. Companies like FitBit, Whoop, Garmin, and Oura Ring all have proprietary measures related to readiness for exercise. These wearable devices look at factors like resting heart rate, respiration rate, heart rate variability, and more. These readiness factors allow the wearer to gain insight into what their body is doing from a qualitative standpoint to help provide information about how to structure your workout. For example, researchers in Spain published an article in June of this year outlining how the metrics used by many of these wearable technologies were used to refine the training habits of cyclists and improve training outcomes1.

While these devices provide some great information, you still need to apply it appropriately. Furthermore, many of us don’t need these devices to tell us that we are feeling run down, ready to go. What we need is to find our workout of the day that aligns perfectly when our readiness state. One that is going to be the most beneficial for that day.

Having a coach that can help you set the focus and purpose for the day’s workout to align your readiness state, ability, and long goals are so important. If you need help getting the most out of your training, try connecting with one of our coaches to see what recommendations they have!

1.  Javaloyes, Alejandro1; Sarabia, Jose M.1; Lamberts, Robert P.2; Plews, Daniel3; Moya-Ramon, Manuel1 Training Prescription Guided by Heart Rate Variability Vs. Block Periodization in Well-Trained Cyclists, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2020 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – p 1511-1518 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003337

Run For Your Life

Depending on your sport, you may or may not have dedicated time to your running technique. Even if your goals are focused on lifting heavy, knowing the proper way to run is beneficial and can be incorporated into any training routine. Adjusting the volumes and time domains around running is up to you and your coach but learning this skill is essential.

As humans our bodies have developed both the anatomy and energy systems to make us highly capable runners. It can be a great way to break up your training, provides you a chance to get into nature, and can be a great form of meditation.

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has
the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine

Running and Genetics

In the early evolution of humans we developed several characteristics that lead us to be exceptional long distance runners. The muscles of the legs and glutes grew stronger, our feet got bigger, our ability to cool down via sweating improved, and our brains improved at maintaining homeostasis during rigorous endurance activities. This allowed us to become “persistence hunters,” tracking animals for long distances
until they were too worn out to put up a fight.

Recreational Running

Fast forward to today. Long distance running and other feats of endurance are primarily recreational as we rarely need to hunt in order to eat. Running now optional, it has become a skill that some use and others lose. Running however, is part of what makes us human. It can only be assumed that having evolved and adapted as runners to optimize our physical health, running would play an important role.

Mental Health Benefits

Not only does running keep our body healthy but it also stimulates brain growth and function as well. Findings at the University of Liverpool found that “Aerobic exercise increases anterior hippocampus size. This expansion is linked to the improvement of memory, which reflects the improvement of learning as a function of running activity in animal studies.” Aerobic activity like running actually helps our brain improve function. Not only that but it can be a great way to sort out thoughts and clear your head when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Plus the release of endorphins provides an instant mood boost!

Why The Assault Runner

A curved treadmill burns calories faster, according to its makers, you can burn 30% more calories on a curved treadmill. Scientists measuring the physiologic intensity of a standard motorized treadmill compared to a non-motorized, curved treadmill reported stronger results from the latter. You’ll increase your heart rate faster and keep it up, increasing your need for oxygen and helping torch more calories than regular aerobic exercise. A curved treadmill engages more muscle groups, since you don’t have to push to propel yourself forward, traditional treadmills don’t actually activate your entire leg. Curved machines, on the other hand, force your legs to power them from the very start – activating everything from your glutes to your hamstrings to kickstart the machine. You can’t just flick an up switch to control the running speed, either – you can only increase the pace by working out harder. A curved treadmill is less harmful on the joints, you don’t have to sacrifice your running to save your knees. The rubber surface of a curved helps absorb the impact on your joints and connective tissue, preventing injuries often associated with pounding the ground. Standard treadmills aren’t designed to soak up this shock, meaning your joints are more prone to wear and tear over time.

If you care about squatting, nutrition, and mobility but can’t remember the last time you ran more than a mile it might be time to lace up. If you have questions or you are not sure where to start, talk to one of our trainers that can teach you the proper mechanics for running, sprinting, and other essential skills.

Mitch Stout

The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing for Your Elbow Health

Still have that nagging elbow pain that won’t go away? It can prevent you from even picking up your coffee cup if it is really aggravated and will keep you out of the gym for days at a time.

This type of pain often occurs as inflammation due to overuse of the forearm muscles. The symptoms of “tennis elbow” or “lateral epicondylitis” can be mitigated with ice or NSAIDs, but your goal should not be to deal with the symptoms.

Wes Wilson

Prevention is always the best measure and there are exercises you can do that will act as a rehab and prehab. Here is the best exercises you’re probably not doing for your elbow health. Adding this exercise in to finish your workout is a great way to combat elbow pain and prevent it from coming back! Enter the Zottman curl.

The Zottman Curl:

The Zottman curl is one of the best and most efficient exercises that you should be doing if you care about performance in grip heavy workouts with rope climbs, kettlebell swings, and deadlifts. This is also a great movement to prevent elbow pain from occurring.

You won’t need much weight to start ( especially if you’re rehabbing an injury). These curls are extremely hubbling and are very challenging on the biceps and extensor muscles in your forearms if performed correctly.

Start with a pair of dumbbells and a supinated grip. Perform a bicep curl and pause in the top position or :01-:02 with your biceps fully contracted. Slowly rotate your hands into a pronated (palms down) position before lowering the weight. In the bottom position rotate your palms back to a supinated position before performing your next rep.

Pro tip:
Performing these from a tall kneeling position on both knees will help you activate your core and glutes simultaneously and prevent you from cheating on the curl.

Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of this exercise with a light to moderate load. You should be able to perform these curls at the beginning or end of your workout 2-3 days each week. Give the Zottman Curl a try and bulletproof those elbows today!

Conquer COVID-19 with Vitamin D

Facemasks have become the new normal, but are you doing everything you can to stay healthy? Now that the world is starting to open back up, you may have some anxiety about what you can do to help protect you and your family from contracting the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A recent discovery made it clear that supplementing Vitamin D could help stave off this unwanted virus. How do you know if you need to supplement this essential vitamin? Let’s dive into the function of Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that your body needs to function optimally. It’s generated in skin by UVB rays that come from the sun hitting your skin.

Dr. John Vincent

The catch is that you have to absorb the right amount of sun and have it actually penetrate the skin to have this vitamin do it’s thing in your body. Vitamin D has many other important functions, but most importantly for covid-19, is how it acts on your immune system.

Here’s an excerpt from the renowned Dr. Rhonda Patrick investigating and involved in the research during this pandemic:

“Since vitamin D insufficiency is widespread (and perhaps exacerbated in quarantine conditions, due to limited sunlight exposure), supplemental vitamin D might be a viable means to increase vitamin D to sufficient levels.
Maintaining a healthy vitamin D status, an imminently solvable but often ignored problem, may turn out to be an important factor in protecting against susceptibility to lung injury in COVID-19.” (FoundMyFitness, Dr. Rhonda Patrick https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/vitamin-d-covid-19)

The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test.  The Vitamin D Council places the ideal level between 40 and 80 ng/mL with levels below 20 ng/mL as deficient. Most people have insufficient levels because we wear clothes, work inside all day and wear sunscreen to protect our skin. This will block your absorption of UVB rays making you susceptible to Vitamin D insufficiency. In fact, 70% in the US have this insufficiency, and 29% of the US are actually deficient. Not to mention if you live in the Northern latitude states, above the 37th parallel, the risk of deficiency increases causing a myriad of other health issues aside from immune function.

So what can you do? Daily supplements of Vitamin D for you and your family have been shown to greatly reduce the risk for acute respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin D Dose Recommendations

Age Dosage
Below 5 35 units per pound per day
Age 5 – 10 2500 units.
Adults 5000 units
Pregnant Women 8000 units

If increasing your immune defense system doesn’t turn you on, did you know that Vitamin D wards off depression? Depression rates have increased an astounding 65% since the beginning of the pandemic. With most of us quarantining and forced to stay inside, I’m sure you can see how easily this can happen. If you’re not into supplements, think about adding salmon in your diet a few times a week, a food extremely rich in Vitamin D. Stay healthy and happy, folks!

The 4 Best Lateral Movements to Include in your Training Regimen

Lateral movements often get overlooked, but these kinds of movements are actually the best way to prevent injuries and increase your athleticism. Lateral movements are the side to side movements you see in sports and are key to a healthier you.

Things like running, walking, cooking, weight lifting-these all happen forward to backwards. This is where we spend most of our time and can actually create deficiencies in our joints and muscles when we only train these movements on a regular basis. Lack of training lateral movements can result in knee injuries and other various sprained or torn ligaments.

Wes Wilson

The best way to avoid these deficiencies and strengthen any underused joint or muscle is obvious: train lateral movement.

Add these movements on to your weekly workout routines as a pre workout warm-up or post workout cool down. It will do wonders for your fitness training and longevity.

Here is a great place to start. Try to complete three rounds of 12-15 reps of the following:

Side Planks

Trains the obliques or the “sides” of your core musculature. Planks are a static movement. The goal is to resist breaking the side plank position. Whether you are positioned on your elbow or stacked on an extended hand, focus on maintaining a solid midline and touching your top hip to the ceiling. This will prevent any sagging on the working side. Hold for 10-15 seconds, gradually increasing as it gets too easy, repeat for 10-12 reps.

Side leg raises

These can be performed laying down or standing. If you’re looking for extra points, try these standing to challenge your balance. Standing on one leg, while activating your core, gaze straight out at a fixed point. Once you feel balanced, flex your foot (toes towards the shin, and pointed forward) and raise your heel as far up as you can until you feel a contraction on the outside of your hip. You can use a wall or chair for some extra balance. This exercise trains the outsides of the legs, strengthening and protecting the ligaments and muscles around the knee and hip joints.

Side Lunges/ cossack squats

This exercise helps with knee and ankle mobility. It trains outsides of legs, balance, stability, and ankle mobility. Begin with your feet together and step out with the right leg into a wide sumo stance. Begin to sit back putting all of your wait on your right leg as you send your weight down and back. Go as far as is comfortable. You can drive out on this leg back to a neutral standing position, then repeat on the left, or you can gently send your weight through the middle and lunge into the left side. This variation would be more like a cossck squat rather than a side lunge. Do what you are most comfortable with. While completing this movement, notice if your knee is tracking in line with your toe. If you can’t see your big toe on the inside of your knee, chances are you’re letting your knees cave it, which would not be great for your knee joints. When in doubt, grab a coach to get this one dialed in.

Lateral Box Step ups

Trains legs, core, outside of knees, insides of knees, ankles and balance. Stand on the side of a lower box, adjusting the height as necessary. Balancing on the outer leg, use your inner leg (closest to the box) to drive your weight and step up and onto the box, leaving your outside leg to float at the top, then slowly lower onto the outside leg and step down off of the box. Start at a low height and work up to a place you feel challenged, but secure.

Lateral movements are important to incorporate into your workout routines. If all else fails, grab your weightlifting partner and turn up the Cotton Eye Joe.

Happy side stepping!

The Top Three Supplements for Healthy Digestion

How do you judge your gut health? Do you base it on having a stomachache or not? A stomachache isn’t the only identifying factor that sheds light on digestive issues. Discomforts are only a piece of the pie when it comes to having a healthy digestive system.

So why should you care about your digestive health? Digestion is responsible for turning all of the food we eat into something useful for our body. If you have weak digestion, your absorption of essential nutrients, your mood and of course bowel related pains become an issue. We need to make sure it is functioning at its best to ensure a healthy body.

Mitch Stout

Here are the top three supplements for healthy digestion (with a little help from Dr. Jessica Stout, D.O. [3rd year GI fellow]:

  • L-Glutamine:
    This amino acid is responsible for a lot of different functions in the body. Your body produces this naturally, but eating meats, seafood, milk, nuts, eggs, cabbage, & beans can also produce it. This amino amplifies the function of your digestive system, which means optimum nutrient absorption and organ health. “It is important in immune function, but unless you have a medical condition that is causing a glutamine deficiency or you aren’t eating any meat, you’re likely getting plenty of glutamine in your diet.” said Dr. Stout. If you can’t get enough of this amino acid in your diet, look into supplementing by protein powder/drinks to get enough in your system.
  • Pre & Probiotics:
    Your gut is home to hundreds of microorganisms helping to aid your immune system and digest your food properly. These wee little beasties also known as bacteria are largely responsible for the productive breakdown of nutrients in foods. “Probiotics are a hot topic of research right now. They have a lot of evidence for use in preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea, but many other measurable health benefits have been disappointing. That being said, they’re almost definitely not harmful, and I have plenty of patients tell me anecdotal stories about “how much better” they feel after starting probiotics. This includes mood enhancement and improvement in symptoms of bloating and diarrhea. I often recommend trying them—unfortunately, you often get what you pay for, as the more expensive probiotics tend to be hardy and more diverse. Speaking of diverse—don’t eat the same foods over and over again. Mix it up, try a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. This will naturally improve the diversity of your gut flora,” said Dr. Stout.

 

Pre and probiotics make sure that your body is housing quality bacteria, instead of others that may promote disease and discomfort. Prebiotics are in foods such as whole grains, bananas, greens, onions, garlic, soybeans and artichokes. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurts, but also come in a pill form.

  • Fiber:
    This one is a no brainer. You’ve probably heard of it from your doctor or on the latest health supplement commercial. Having fiber in your diet helps to relieve your digestive tract of waste. “Why care about fiber? It keeps blood glucose low and prevents diabetes, lowers cholesterol, and also keeps stool moving through the bowel preventing constipation. It can also add bulk to stools and help with diarrhea. Not all fiber supplements are created equal, I recommend looking for the word “psyllium,” said Dr. Jessica Stout, DO. Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day. If you don’t get enough, you become quite literally full of **it. This can lead to bloating, pain, an overgrowth of bad bacteria and essentially poor digestion. Fiber is important to include in your diet. Vegetables (green peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts), fruits (raspberries, pears, apples, bananas) and some grains (quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice) are natural sources of fiber. If you think you’re not getting enough, have a conversation with your doctor about how you can go about supplementing it. If you’re consuming fiber, be sure to focus on getting the recommended amount of water in your diet too, since fiber can’t do its job without it.

Nutrient breakdown starts with digestion and nutrients are the building blocks of your body. If you’re spending anytime in the gym trying to be healthy, don’t overlook the tool that helps fuel your engine. What’s your gut feeling?