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Sick Of It

athlete-fatigueDo you work out, eat well and take care of yourself yet often find you are sick or tired all the time?

Despite taking such good care of your body, if you are an avid exerciser and fitness enthusiast you can actually break down your immune system with overtraining. Many factors associated with overtraining compromise an athlete’s immune system. In fact, upper respiratory infections are actually very common in athletes.

This was a big topic during the training for my Nutrition Certification I just completed this past week. Let’s break it down.

What Happens?
When you exercise, there is an increase in stress hormones which leads to high inflammatory markers (bi-products of chronic stress). There is also a decrease in innate and acquired immunity.

Interesting Fact: 90 minutes after strenuous activity, your immunity is the lowest and you are more apt to get sick! It’s important to refrain from putting your hands near your mouth or eyes (the most susceptible areas of the body) post exercise & wash your hands immediately.

How Do I Keep The Sickness and Fatigue Away?

Protein
Protein is a key component to building immunity. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts. Your daily protein intake should be between 0.8-1.8 grams per 2.2 lbs. The high or low range depends on your activity level. An average adult needs about 0.8 – 1.2 g/2.2 lbs. where a strength athlete needs between 1.4-1.8 g/2.2 lbs.

Example: For a 150 pound active woman: divide 150 by 2.2lbs and multiply that number by about 1.2 grams of protein. Total = 82 grams of protein per day.

Vitamins and Minerals
There are several vitamins and minerals that work as anti-oxidants and help keep your immunity strong including Vitamin A, E, B6, B12, C and Folic Acid. Zinc and Iron are also important, but they should be ingested in moderation as too much can actually have the opposite effect and lower immunity. Most of these vitamins/minerals can be ingested in the food you eat: green leafy veggies, beans, eggs, dairy, lean meats, fruits and whole grains.

Ingest Carbs
Eating carbs post-exercise is said to help build your immune system and reduce stress hormones. We are not talking about eating a box of crackers or bag of pretzels – try to keep to “real” foods such as fruits, veggies and healthy grains.

Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is critical to helping your body function. Dehydration can be the main reason for fatigue. When you exercise, especially in hotter weather, it’s important to rehydrate 125-150% of fluid loss during exercise. Thirst is regulated in the brain. You are already very dehydrated when you even begin to feel thirsty.  You have to stay ahead of it.

Probiotics
I have professed my belief in probiotics for years – studies suggest probiotic and prebiotic ingestion in athletes reduces sick days.

Polyphenols
Polyphenols are abundant micronutrients in our diet, and evidence for their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging. They are said to be great stress inhibitors and promote immunity. These can be found in foods like kale, hot peppers, onion, apples, etc. Here is a list of 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols.

Sleep
As I preach to my clients all the time, adequate rest is crucial for an athlete’s recovery and keeps stress hormones low and repairs mental and physical function. Consistent sleep patterns and getting enough sleep to repair your body is crucial in keeping your immunity & performance levels high and stress hormones low.

Stress
And of course, keeping regular stress at bay is a big component. The more stressed you are, the lower your immunity levels and higher your fatigue. Your body may even start to hold onto some fat. The unfortunate result is when we are chronically stressed by life crises and work-life demands, we are prone to getting an extra layer of “visceral fat” deep in our bellies.

Nutrition is a big component of your day to day. It dictates everything – how your body responds to stress, your energy level and a strong immune system. Getting enough anti-oxidants, keeping stress levels in control and being able to replenish & repair your body are key to optimizing your health and energy levels.

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A Few Of My Favorite Things…

Ala Oprah style (without the freebies)

The more I read and learn about health and fitness, the more amazing products and trends I discover. Many of you have been asking, so here is a list of some of my current favorite things:

Green Vibrance
Green Vibrance is the “original concentrated green superfood”. It contains 58 certified organic, concentrated foods and extracts, all of the highest quality, along withan industry-leading 18 billion probiotics per serving. It’s a nutritional powerhouse that improves energy and endurance, strengthens immunity and improves digestion and circulation. According to the package, Green Vibrance has more nutrient density than any other green-food product on the market.

Where to get it: Found the best price on Amazon – but also available at the Summit Health Shoppe on Springfield Ave in Summit (which is one of our sponsors offering Heels To Laces members a discount on products! hint, hint).

Latest version with protein:
I originally used Green Vibrance daily and mixed in my own protein…until Maximum Vibrance came out! Each serving has 23 grams of protein, in addition to the original multi-vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and probiotics to increase vitality, energy and achieve
optimum health. Maximum Vibrance contains 120 ingredients including 80 plants, 26 antioxidants, 6g of fiber, 7 servings of fruits and vegetables, 7 vegetable based digestive enzymes, 23 grams of protein and is gluten free.

Where to get it: Amazon & Summit Health Shoppe

Whey Factors 100% Whey Protein
I have searched high and low for a pure high quality protein without artificial or added ingredients. And I finally found it:

Whey Factors, 100% natural whey protein powder, is a pure source of high quality whey protein. No GMO, BSE, rBGH or added sugar. No artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, starch, wheat or yeast. It is unflavored but still tastes good. It’s perfect to add to a protein shake or smoothie (suggest blending with fruit and/or milk to make it more tasty).

Where to get it: Summit Health Shoppe

Natural Vitality CALM – Anti-Stress Drink
Natural Calm is the most effective, fast-acting, pH-balanced magnesium available. It is a 100% natural, water-soluble magnesium powder of the highest quality. Magnesium is said to have powerful healing properties and most Americans do not ingest nearly enough of this beneficial mineral. It is said to help you:

  • sleep better
  • relax the nervous system
  • elevate your mood
  • build bigger, stronger muscles
  • have better flexibility
  • help with regularity
  • return the body’s natural pH balance
  • hydrate
  • and prevent several health conditions like diabetes

I use it as a natural anxiety remedy – and it works brilliantly. It comes in raspberry lemon or lemon.

Where to get it: In addition to the larger container, The Summit Healthe Shoppe on Springfield Ave sells single-dose packets for $1.00 each. Awesome for travel and convenience 😉

NOW Foods Liquid Vitamin D-3 1,000 IU Dropvitd
I was continually looking for a vitamin D my kids could take since my son couldn’t swallow any pills. I found this vitamin D with a dropper – which lasts forever and is super easy to dispense. The kids love it! And you all know by now after reading our blog how important Vitamin D is.

Where to get it: Summit Health Shoppe and Amazon.

Cruncha ma-me Edamame Veggie Snack salt n pepper
Yum, yum, yum! Salt n’ Pepa here!

Rich in protein (8 gram per bag) same as a large egg, high in fiber (3 gram per bag – same as an apple), gluten-free, non-GMO ingredients and great edamame taste!Perfect filling snack when you need a little somethin’ somethin’. Comes in several flavors including Salt and Pepper, my personal fav.

Where to get it: Kings, Whole Foods & Amazon

Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacomole97951-reduced-guilt-chunky-guacamole-di2
I eat it by the tub.

Made with low fat greek yogurt, it has 50% less fat and 40% fewer calories that the regular guac with the same awesome benefits and it is DE-Lish! Simplest ingredients ever: low-fat Greek yogurt blended with hand-scooped avocados, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, garlic, black pepper, fresh lime juice, and a bit of jalapeño.

Where to get it: Trader Joe’s, of course.

Yurbudsyurbuds
Not gonna lie – our super amazing, young, hip, gorgeous cousin works for the company. She sent me a pair and I loved them. Ergonomically designed silicone ear buds to fit women’s ears. They twist into place so they won’t fall out during the most intense workout and feature water-resistant protection that lets you train in any conditions. Other features:  includes two sizes of enhancers, sweat, water and germ-resistant, “ambient noise awareness” and four-foot cord. And they’re super-cute too. Love the packaging.

Where to get it: They are all over – but found them at Target.

Riondo Prosecco
Pretty sure I wrote about this one before. Perfect summer drink. Cross between white wine, champagne and beer. My husband loRiondo Prosecco-500x500ves it too, so it passes the “manly” drink test. Refreshing and light, not too sweet, and no morning hang-over (even when you drink the whole bottle – for those seasoned drinkers like myself ;-).

Where to get it: I buy it by the case for a 15% discount at A&P Liquor in Summit right off Summit Ave by the Delta gas station (looks like a dive, but it’s a great deal!).

Tabata
Had to include this one. For the past couple of months, I ditched my old-school one-hour workouts and replaced them with 30-minute Tabata classes– a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training).  Tabata has anaerobic and aerobic benefits – it is a perfect combination of cardio and strength training. Most of you know Lisa and I teach Tabata locally and our clients have had tremendous results! At the end of our first 8-week program, our Tabata Bootcamp group lost a total of 41 inches and dropped 7.9% body fat!

I have literally cut my workouts in half and have seen a huge difference.

Where to find it: Summit, NJ with Lisa and Debra. Email us for the latest schedule:  info@heelstolaces.com 😉

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Your Second Brain

Our bodies contain a second nervous system, separate from our brains, made up of about 500 million neurons that contribute to your physical and mental well-being.stomach_tummy

Meet your stomach. With its vast network of neurons lining the stomach, it is often referred to as the “second brain” in our bodies. This enteric nervous system in our stomach goes far beyond simply  processing the food we eat and giving us “butterflies” when we are anxious. The “brain” in our stomachs, in connection with the brain in our skulls, contributes to our mental state and plays key roles with some diseases in our body.

The condition of our stomachs will directly correlate to brain function. Your gut produces more hormones than any other part of your body, including 95% of the body’s serotonin. When your gut isn’t functioning properly, you could experience emotional distress. Up to 90% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also suffer from mental-health issues. This relationship between the two brains may also cause other diseases, like osteoporosis, since the gut regulates bone mass.

So, what you put in your stomach can directly affect your mental and physical functionality.

When our stomach does not function properly, it indicates an imbalance. Cutting-edge research is investigating how the stomach controls the body’s immune response and function. At least 70% of our immune system is a function of the gut, which is responsible for expelling and killing foreign invaders. Trillions of microscopic bacteria fill our stomach (called the intestinal microbiome) and are essential to life as they help the body extract nutrients from food, regulate tissue development and kill off germs.

If we aren’t feeding our stomachs with the right nutrients, these vital bacteria are not able to do their job. It is believed that our modern diet of processed foods is disrupting the function of the microbiome in our stomachs, therefore our stomach function. In addition, excess amounts of stress, alcohol and antibiotic medications destroy these beneficial bacteria.

There are ways to recoup the healthy balance in your stomach. This includes swapping junk foods for natural, healthy foods, getting outside, exercising to relieve stress and adding probiotics to your diet to balance the healthy bacteria in your gut.

From a personal perspective, my son was getting sick every month, to the day. We thought he had an immunity problem. After a lot of blood work and many doctors’ appointments, nothing was found. I decided to put him on Florastor Kids probiotic to see if it was an issue with the balance of the bacteria in his stomach and it literally fixed him. He has not been sick since. I am a believer in probiotics.

Future research will continue to help us discover the connection between the two brains and the impact it has on our health. For now, it is important to feed your stomach (and hence, your mind) with healthy, natural foods as often as possible and keep a high activity level to maintain a natural balance in your body.

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