Nutrition science is confusing for most people. Here is the simple breakdown of the basics that you've been looking for - check it out now!Read More
By: Joe Fleming, co-founder of Vive Health
For many of us, pain is a part of everyday life, whether due to a fitness injury like shin splints, or a chronic condition like arthritis. Because we all live such busy lives, we understandably want the pain to go away as quickly as possible and there are plenty of opioid painkillers that will do just that.
Unfortunately, these pills often come at a great price... and not just in terms of money. They are extremely addictive. It is easy to get hooked and almost impossible to quit. Even worse, opioids are often gateway drugs to heroin or something even worse. At some point, the cost simply becomes too high.
The good news is that there are a number of natural remedies that can either eliminate pain altogether, when coupled with time and some other things, or at least greatly reduce our pain pill consumption.
Most people know arthritis is chronic, degenerative, and incurable. In other words, the underlying condition is always there, usually gets worse, and never gets better. As a result, many people think that prescription painkillers are the only way to get through the day. However, in many cases, that’s simply not true.
People successfully dealt with arthritis pain long before prescription painkillers came along, and what worked then will work today. Some ideas include:
Weight Loss: Obesity worsens arthritis in the ankles, knees, and other joints in the lower extremities, simply because of the extra pressure and stress. Even just ten pounds should make a noticeable difference.
Exercise: Somewhat similarly, exercise increases flexibility and muscle mass, thus reducing discomfort. Targeted exercise usually improves arthritis not only in the legs, but in other parts of the body as well.
Yoga: In addition to physical exercise, yoga provides a few minutes of quiet meditation. There is considerable evidence that meditation decreases pain, if for no other reason than you are thinking about something else for a period of time.
Dietary Supplements: Turmeric, a common Indian spice, reduces joint inflammation. Other proven supplements include S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), fish oil and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).
Depending on the individual, these techniques may make a night and day difference or they may not have any effect at all. However, nearly everyone sees enough improvement to either reduce the use of prescription pain pills or replace them with analgesics, like Motrin.
While back pain is usually curable, that cure may entail spinal fusion surgery or some other radical procedure. So, for many people, the goal is pain management, as it is with arthritis sufferers.
Exercise is usually the best way to address back pain, and there are a number of activities and stretches that may work well. Alternating hot and cold therapy, with a heat pad and ice pack, is also effective in many cases. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has also shown to help reduce low back pain.
These injuries are usually quite painful but easily curable. In the instance of fitness injury, pain-masking opioids may be an even worse idea than normal, because people might feel better before they actually are and re-injure themselves. The RICE method is usually a great approach immediately after a fitness injury.
Rest: Talk to a doctor or trainer about how long you need to walk on crutches, wear a boot, or otherwise avoid using the muscle.
Ice: Twenty minutes of cold therapy not only reduces swelling, but also reduces discomfort.
Compression: An ACE Bandage will do in a pinch to decrease inflammation, but a specially-designed wrap, like a calf shin support, will usually help people get better faster.
Elevation: Keep the injured muscle above your heart.
About halfway through the recovery process for a fitness-related injury, cross-training is probably okay, to stay fit and help ease injury-related depression. But be sure you talk to a doctor or therapist first.
The bottom line is that there are options other than addictive painkillers to decrease the discomfort associated with many everyday illnesses and injuries.
(1) A. Cassoobhoy. (December 15, 2015). What is low back pain? WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/ss/slideshow-low-back-pain-overview
By: Aron James
For men who want to take care of their skin, it can be somewhat daunting to walk through the beauty aisle at your local grocery store while attempting to find the product that is just right for you. While certain skin creams can help to improve skin blemishes and other skin-related problems, one of the most overlooked (yet utterly important) parts of skin care is what you eat.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on high end skin creams, cleansers and exfoliants, you might very well be able to get rid of those excess pimples and oily skin simply by avoiding that mid-afternoon stop at the local fast food joint. Choosing to eat a diet that is rich in natural, wholesome and organic foods is one of the best ways to improve the skin on any man's face. Below I offer three food hacks that will help improve your overall skin health while helping you avoid breaking the bank on expensive skin care treatment products.
Eat a Diet Rich in Antioxidants
Even if you are not a nutritionist, chances are that you have heard of antioxidants. It may seem like every other week you read a newspaper article or post on Facebook about some type of food that is high in antioxidants and thus great for your health. Antioxidants, among other health benefits, help to slow the process of aging.
One recent study titled Diet in Dermatology: Present Perspectives (1), concludes that foods that are high in antioxidants have a high photo-protective potential, which is a fancy way of saying that these foods will help protect your skin from signs of premature aging caused by exposure to the sun and other elements. So, be sure to add an extra cup of blueberries (high in antioxidants) to your cereal in the morning, and don´t worry about eating that dark chocolate bar as it has high levels of flavonoids, a potent antioxidant.
Eat a Well-Rounded Diet
While this should be common sense for anyone, nutritional deficiencies that come up because we have been avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to several skin health problems. For men who consider skin care an essential part of their grooming regime, you might want to spend more time in the produce section of your local supermarket. Or better yet, visit your local farmers market to find fresh, wholesome, organic produce that will give you the vitamins and minerals your skin needs to stay healthy.
Trade Out Sugar for Honey
Too much sugar is never a good thing for your teeth, your blood sugar levels, or for your skin. By using honey to sweeten your morning coffee, you will be getting a good dose of antioxidants. The high level of magnesium in honey is also essential for good skin health. Real men should be concerned about protecting their skin. Whether you are spending time in the wilderness to embolden your prepper mentality or simply want to look good for a first date, these three changes to your diet will help keep your skin looking young and refreshed.
About the Author
Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. Stubble Patrol is a site on male grooming. He loves to write about his personal experiences.
1. K H Basavaraj, C Seemanthini, R Rashmi(2010, Jul-Sep). Diet in Dermatology: Present Perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2965901/
2. n.a. (2017). Men health care - cosmetic surgeries for better skin. Mash Men. Retrieved from: http://www.mashmen.com/2015/11/17/men-health-cosmetic-surgeries/
This is a guest post courtesy of Needak Rebounder for Flabs to Fitness.
The Glycemic Index is a valuable tool that has become a staple concept within health and fitness circles. When used intelligently and responsibly, the glycemic index can be used as a powerful mechanism for improving health, reducing the risk of certain diseases and reaching healthy weight goals.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic Index - commonly referred to as “GI” - is a scale that ranks the way different carbohydrate foods affect your blood glucose (also known as “blood sugar”). The GI is represented as a number, with the highest value being 100 which is equivalent to pure glucose and corresponds to the effect pure glucose would have on blood glucose levels. So, if you were to consume a tablespoon of glucose, or sugar, you can imagine the effect it would have on your body: your blood sugar level would rise very fast seeing as glucose does not need to be broken down by your digestive system. You might feel hyperactive, jittery or a suddenly energetic. The glucose would cause a very rapid and high rise to your blood glucose level.
The higher the GI of a particular food, the more rapidly it is digested and absorbed by your body and the more dramatically it increases your blood sugar. Foods that are low GI foods take longer to digest and absorb, which creates a gradual increase to blood sugar.
In other words, low GI foods release the energy content of food slowly and steadily over a longer period of time unlike high GI foods, which provide quick-release energy within a shorter time span.
Can low GI diets help with weight loss?
One of the most significant and noticeable effects of low GI foods is their effect on appetite. Due to their slow digestion, low GI foods last longer in your system and therefore keep you satiated for a greater period of time. By steadily releasing energy to your body, you feel full for longer and experience hunger pangs less often than on high GI foods. Therefore, when it comes to weight loss and weight management, the natural hunger-suppressing quality of low GI foods means you can stick to a healthy diet more easily and focus on feeding your body only as much as it needs.
Research also shows that low GI foods encourage your body to burn stored fat and assists in lowering cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels.
What are examples of low GI foods?
Generally, carbohydrate foods are divided into three GI categories:
Low GI: 1 to 55
Medium GI: 56 to 69
High GI: 70 and higher
When we talk about low GI foods, we refer to foods that are within the 1-55 GI range. Below are some examples of low GI foods – as you will see, there are plenty of different foods that fall within the low GI range. Creating your own low GI diet is not difficult when you know what to choose from!
Cereals: oat bran; rolled oats; natural muesli; porridge.
Breads: soya and linseed; wholegrain pumpernickel; heavy mixed grain; whole wheat; sourdough rye; sourdough wheat.
Vegetables: frozen green peas; frozen sweet corn; carrots; eggplant/aubergine; broccoli; cauliflower; cabbage; mushrooms; tomatoes; chillies; lettuce; green beans; red peppers; onions; yams; sweet potatoes.
Fruits: cherries; plums; grapefruit; peaches; apples; pears; dried apricots; grapes; coconut; coconut milk; kiwi fruit; oranges; strawberries; prunes.
Legumes (Beans): kidney beans (canned); butter beans; chick peas; haricot/navy beans; red lentils; green lentils; pinto beans; black eyed beans; yellow split peas.
Grains: brown rice; pearl barley; buckwheat; white long grain rice; spaghetti.
Eating low GI foods does not mean you need to forego your tastebuds or flavourful foods. There are plenty of delicious low GI recipes easily found through Google. The Glycemic Index Foundation is a good place to start – they provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes that all look tantalizing and many of them take less that 20 minutes to whip up!
Are there any benefits to consuming high and medium GI foods?
High/medium GI whole foods such as bananas, pineapples, watermelon and dates are advantageous sources of quick energy for times when your body requires rapid fuel replenishment. For example, after performing a rigorous workout it’s important to refuel your body so that your muscles can properly recover and rebuild. In such instances, eating a natural high/medium GI food in order to provide your body some immediate sustenance until your next meal can assist with muscle recovery.
Other health benefits of low GI diets:
There is a significant body of clinical research which describe various health benefits of maintaining a low GI diet. One of the most notable areas of research is the effect low GI diets can have in reducing the risk of diabetes. High GI diets create unhealthy surges to insulin levels. If you maintain a high GI diet for long enough, your body develops insulin resistance, which is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. Conversely, low GI foods do not spike your insulin levels and assists your body in maintain proper regulation of insulin and blood glucose levels. Proper Low GI diets can also help with managing and improving diabetes symptoms by improving blood glucose levels, reducing insulin resistance and improving blood cholesterol levels.
Given all the evidence supporting the benefits of low GI foods, it makes a great deal of sense to switch to a predominantly low GI diet. Low GI diets can markedly assist with reaching and maintaining healthy weight and significantly lessen the the risk of developing serious diseases. Furthermore, combining regular exercise activities with a predominantly low GI diet can maximise weight loss and promote overall well-being. And you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with strenuous high impact or heavy duty exercises or heavy duty exercise to maintain good health. There are numerous low impact options such as walking, rebounding, swimming, strength training which you can tailor to fit your individual needs and requirements.
Needak Rebounder is an official retailer of the bestselling rebounder in the world. Their fitness device is focused on alternate forms of in-home cardiovascular health, and their blog features many articles which focus on this and how it relates to the sport of rebounding. Visit Needak.com if you are interested in exploring the Needak Rebounder and the revolutionary sport of rebounding.
This post started as a broader "benefits of microgreens" write-up, until I realized how broad a topic and therefore bad idea that would be. There are too many types of microgreens in general to encompass in one post... at least for me at this time. :)
As mentioned in my post about growing your own broccoli sprouts, this whole topic came to me in the first place after listening to episode #901 of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. Prior to this episode, the only experience I'd had with microgreens was at the general level when I purchased a "mixed variety" of them from the farmer's market to try adding to my smoothies. I was rough on the science, didn't really think much of it, and felt bad for buying living baby plants just to rip them from the soil and eat over the next few days. I know, the huntress felt bad for killing plants. Whatever.
This specific episode of the podcast, though, went into a ton of detail on why Dr. Patrick loves including broccoli sprouts specifically in her daily smoothie. That's what I'd like to dive into here, as my geeky nature questions the "why" behind everything and I like to have a solid knowledge base to inform people about why I do what I do.
So! What are some of the benefits of eating broccoli sprouts?
- Anti-carcinogenic effects
- Protects the heart
- Protection against inflammation
- Promotion of longevity & life extension
- Increased fat burning in the cells
- Strong antioxidant properties
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Promotion of muscular growth
That list looks pretty all-encompassing, but I still stand by my use of the word "some" to preface it because there are other possible benefits that have been discovered, but not extensively researched. At the time of this writing, the above list has a good amount of study put to it already.
Wanna go more in-depth?
If the above list convinced you to start sprouting your own broccoli or becoming a regular customer of the microgreens farms at your local farmer's market, great! If you're like me, you want more details on the subject. Never fear, for I am here and slightly angry with myself for loving to do this research so much!
There is a compound in broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane, as already mentioned, which underlies most of the benefits listed. With that in ming, let's get to it!
1. Anti-carcinogenic effects
In a 2004 study(1), certain doses of sulforaphane can actually be as potent as the standard-of-care drug trichostatin A, which works to inhibit a key enzyme in cancer proliferation. The effects of the drug and sulforaphane when taken together seemed to amplify each others' effects.
2. Protects the heart
Cruciferous vegetables are generally considered cardioprotective, i.e. they guard the health of the heart. This is because of a sulfur compound found within them, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), is actually inversely related with the progression of cardiovascular disease(2). The presence of H2S in garlic is why it is generally considered a superfood, as H2S is a vasodilator. Vasodilation is the process of opening up the pathways for blood flow and is considered beneficial for cardiovascular health, as wider flow pathways means less resistance to blood movement and therefore lower blood pressure. A lack of H2S in the body has also recently been linked to decreased endothelial function in obese patients, meaning that the lining of the blood vessels does not respond to vessel size changes as well as it would in non-obese individuals(3). This makes sense, since we just covered that H2S promotes the widening of the vessels.
3. Protects against inflammation
This topic can get broad very quickly. As Dr. Jonathan Mendoza, a wonderful mentor of mine says, "all disease starts with inflammation." To keep it as simple as I can, the aforementioned sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts inhibits something called NF-kB translocation. This action at the cellular level basically describes the movement of an inflammatory compound into the nucleus, or "brain," of the cell. When this compound makes this move, inflammation at that cell boosts and when too many cells experience this, signs of autoimmune disease can appear.
That being said, autoimmune disease is basically the worst outcome of chronic inflammation and compounds to develop over a long period of time. The most-studied autoimmune disease with sulforaphane at this time is Rheumatoid Arthritis, which appears to benefit from mechanisms similar to the NF-kB inhibition at the cellular level(5). Basically, advances in RA seem to be stopped by adding sulforaphane to the diet.
4. Promotion of longevity & life extension
A major cause of the appearance of aging in humans comes from the oxidation of protein in the body. This has led some diets, like the Bulletproof Diet, to promote "protein-cycling," in an effort to recycle some leftover proteins for use in the body so they basically don't just sit around and stagnate from oxidation. With broccoli sprouts, and the sulphoraphane they provide, there appears to be a reduction in the buildup of these proteins in the body. This leads to the theory that cells will age slower, promoting longevity (if your cells die, you die) (6).
5. Increased fat burning in the cells
While the practical significance of this benefit is still being researched, new studies have emerged to show that in the absence of a primary molecule called AMPK, sulforaphane may be able to release glycerol from the cells to produce energy. However, in the presence of AMPK, sulforaphane may actually block the AMPK function and therefore needs to be further studied to understand the exact mechanism(7)(8).
Another note on this section, though: regardless of sulforaphane's role with AMPK, it does appear to help regulate adipocytes(9), also known as fat cells. It seems to reduce their growth and needs to be studied further.
6. Strong antioxidant properties
In relation to number 5, the study showing sulforaphane's regulation of fat cells also showed that it acts as an antioxidant in monitoring/regulating insulin sensitivity(9). Do you know what the opposite of insulin sensitivity is? Insulin resistance. Do you know the common name for insulin resistance? Prediabetes or even full-blown Type 2 diabetes. Yeah.
7. Increased insulin sensitivity
As just mentioned, insulin sensitivity in the body is crucial for avoiding chronic health issues down the line... specifically, type 2 diabetes. In a 2012 study on rats with type 1 diabetes (i.e. the kind you can't really cure as of now), insulin sensitivity was still improved in this hard-to-control disease when the rats were administered concentrations of sulforaphane(10). That is huge implications for future studies on both types of diabetes!
8. Promotion of muscular growth
In proper conjunction with a few other signaling pathways within the skeletal muscle, a 2012 study(11) found that sulforaphane could have the potential to create anabolic effects in the body's muscle mass. "Anabolic" events are events of growth. See that? #gainz. Had to throw them in there somewhere. This is Flabs to Fitness, after all. :)
Well... thank you for making it with me this far, if that's what you did! As you can see, the benefits of broccoli sprouts largely stem from its high concentrations of sulforaphane. I didn't even go into the other compounds that help the sulforaphane react! For now, just know that you'll get the most out of these little superfoods if you eat them raw (or drink them raw in a smoothie) or only cook them at low temperatures for a short period of time. Examine.com recommends steaming them for no more than 3 minutes to still get the benefits of the sulforaphane.
(1) Myzak MC, et al A novel mechanism of chemoprotection by sulforaphane: inhibition of histone deacetylase. Cancer Res. (2004)
(2) Benavides GA, et al Hydrogen sulfide mediates the vasoactivity of garlic. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2007)
(3) Candela, J., Wang, R., White, C. Microvascular Endothelial Dysfunction in Obesity Is Driven by Macrophage-Dependent Hydrogen Sulfide Depletion. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. (2017)
(4) Heiss E, et al Nuclear factor kappa B is a molecular target for sulforaphane-mediated anti-inflammatory mechanisms . J Biol Chem. (2001)
(5) Fragoulis A, et al Sulforaphane has opposing effects on TNF-alpha stimulated and unstimulated synoviocytes . Arthritis Res Ther. (2012)
(6) Stadtman ER Protein oxidation and aging . Science. (1992)
(7) Lee JH, et al Sulforaphane induced adipolysis via hormone sensitive lipase activation, regulated by AMPK signaling pathway . Biochem Biophys Res Commun. (2012)
(8) Garton AJ, Yeaman SJ Identification and role of the basal phosphorylation site on hormone-sensitive lipase . Eur J Biochem. (1990)
(10) de Souza CG, et al Metabolic effects of sulforaphane oral treatment in streptozotocin-diabetic rats . J Med Food. (2012)
(11) Fan H, et al Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells . Epigenetics. (2012)
(12) Weil, A. Better boost from broccoli sprouts? Weil. (2012)
By: Erin Vaage
At the start of a new year, everyone decides what trends from the previous year should stay, what trends need to die a quick death and what new trends everyone should get excited about.
But fashion and beauty trends aren’t the only trending topics you should be following. A new year really can mean the start to a new and improved you; a time to set health goals you’ll actually achieve.
How? Because this year, you’re jumping on the shiny, trendy fitness bandwagon. And 2017’s top fitness trends have workouts and classes that fit with your schedule and your fitness goals.
They’re fun, effective, and guaranteed to get you excited to exercise and maintain motivation throughout the year to shed those 15 pounds or get those killer Chris Evans-like abs that the ladies love.
The Top Fitness Trends of 2017
Mixed Format & Live-Stream Workout Classes
Class is now in session. And no, I don’t mean boring, monotone-speaking science classes. 2017 is going to make you actually enjoy going to class with mixed format gym classes or attending class in your living room with live-stream exercise classes.
Also called hybrid classes, these group gym workouts are anything but boring. For 45-60 minutes, they mix multiple workout styles into one, so you’re not just sitting on a bike for an hour. Instead, you’re doing combinations of cardio and strength training, which is even more effective at helping you shed off your winter weight and getting you bikini-bod ready. Find out who’s offering Piloxing or a combo spin and yoga class that you can try out.
If you’re not a gym rat, or your working-parent schedule doesn’t allow you to be, join a live-stream workout class. I know, those old Jane Fonda and Denise Austin workout VHS tapes were cheesy and not enough motivation to keep you burning calories five days a week. But I bet streaming an intense Jillian Michaels workout or bringing the ballet barre into your home will do the trick. More brands and studios will start jumping on this trend later in the year, so keep your eye out for live-stream classes that work best for you.
Some of my best memories as a kid were jumping on a trampoline during the summer. Why do we have to stop doing all the things that brought us joy as kids? We don’t have to. And to start feeling young again, you can get yourself a mini trampoline. It doesn’t just make you feel like a kid again, it also makes exercising enjoyable.
Rebounding is one workout that does it all. Seriously, spending just 10-15 minutes a day jumping and doing various exercises on a rebounder can help you lose weight, improve your balance and coordination, strengthen your muscles, increase your metabolism, and even reduce headaches and help you sleep better at night.
And since it’s small and portable, you can keep your rebounder in your room or even at work and spend 10 minutes of your lunch hour rebounding.
Body Weight Training
This fitness trend requires minimal equipment; in fact, for most body weight training exercises you just need your body. From pushups to pull-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and more, if you’ve got yourself and enough space to do those things, you can get in an effective, lean-muscle-mass building workout. And you can modify your workouts based on your current training level.
Not having the money to buy a gym membership, get a personal trainer, or fill your home office with bulky workout equipment can’t be your excuse anymore. Anyone can do body weight training.
Several years back, intuitive eating was the latest health trend people were getting excited about. Its focus was on trusting your body and yourself. And this year, intuitive training is making its mark on the heath and fitness world.
Like intuitive eating, it involves listening to your body and choosing your workouts based on how your body is feeling on a day-to-day basis. Nothing against people’s set workout programs, but sometimes their routines have a one-size-fits-all mentality. Except, we’re not all the same, and our bodies definitely aren’t the same.
We’re individuals. We each have individual health needs that need to be met. Intuitive training reminds you to daily check in with your body. If you have an intense cardio session planned for today’s workout, but you’re feeling exhausted from yesterday’s workout and this morning’s workload, it’s probably better that you swap it out for a 30-minute yoga session or something a bit lighter.
But with intuitive training, you have to be committed to maintaining a regular workout schedule. Listening to your body doesn’t mean, “Oh I’m just tired (read lazy) so I think my body just needs to skip working out today.” Be in tune with what your body needs, but don’t let yourself start regularly skipping workouts to binge-watch Game of Thrones.
About the Author
Erin graduated from Central College with a degree in Health Promotion and is a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM. She has enjoyed training people of all abilities and ages, from 13 to 102. When not at the gym, she likes to spend most of her time outside hiking, skiing, climbing or mountain biking in her home state of Utah.
Barre3 (2008). Barre Online Workouts and Videos. Retrieved from http://barre3.com/subscription
Cellercise (1998). Cellercise with Dave Hall. Retrieved from https://cellercise.com/
Fit Fusion (2004). Workout Anytime, Anywhere. Retrieved from: https://www.fitfusion.com/
Smith, Jim (n.d.). 5 Best Bodyweight Training Exercises. Retrieved from http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-routines/5-best-bodyweight-training-exercises
Piloxing (2008). Image retrieved from: https://piloxing.com/
Romaniello, John. (n.d.). How to Build a Sexy Female Body. Retrieved from http://romanfitnesssystems.com/articles/6-tips-for-building-a-sexy-female-body/
Walters, Jennipher. (2013, September 29). My Secret to a Healthy Lifestyle: Intuitive Eating. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennipher-walters/intuitive-eating_b_3976172.html
Hey guys! So I posted a loooooong while ago now about Rebounding for Lymphatic Health, and I wanted to touch on the subject again because I've seen such a vast improvement in quality of life since taking action to treat my lymph system better. The thing is, it may be a bit harder to pick a trampoline than you may think. Each one is targeted at a unique population and you definitely don't want to invest in one that isn't right for you!
Ryan Smith over at Trampolinea sent me this awesome infographic the other day that I think would be a great resource for those unsure of where to start looking for a trampoline, or "rebounder." It asks a few basic questions to get you on the path to greater lymphatic health, stat!
That wasn't so bad after all, was it? I hope this helps you on your health journey to better lymph flow!
Remember: recovery is just as, if not more important than your actual training session. Health has to come before fitness, y'all.
Anyone catch the "Paradise" by Coldplay reference in the title? Don't hate me. I had to. It was either this or another pun, so you're welcome that it wasn't worse.
So you're really here to hear about what collagen has to offer, yes? Or maybe somehow your Reddit rabbit hole pulled you this way? Either way, I'm glad you're here. Stay a while and learn something useful.
I recently wrote a review for Vital Proteins, but I felt like I couldn't really go into huge detail on why collagen is so important to add to your regular diet. Beauty gurus have been talking about it for years to women who want thicker/shinier hair, better nails, and clearer skin. But I think everyone should try using it to see what it can do for them, because the benefits of this stuff aren't just skin-deep.
So what's in it for me?
Basically, a comprehensive list of things I've been able to find about collagen benefits is as follows:
- Prevention of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis)
- Increased joint mobility
- Reduced wrinkles & overall healthier skin
- Increased hair thickness & strength
- Prebiotic factors (your gut bacteria likes to munch on it!)
Uhm, yes please to ALL the things!! If you're me and you want more info, here's some stuff to back me up on this.
Prevention of Osteoarthritis & Increased Joint Mobility
According to a study published by Bello & Oessner in 2006 (1), collagen supplementation has the potential to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis is the most common type, and it's basically the kind that you get when the padding on your joints is worn out from use. I hate to call it "aging arthritis," but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... :)
Anyway, collagen is the building block protein of the "padding" in your joints. So it seems pretty straightforward to me that it would help you out by eating some to supply your body with extra for when you need it down the road!
Along the same vein (or joint?), Dr. Josh Axe (2) uses the analogy of a creaky door hinge needing oil. Think of your tight joints and tendons as the hinge, and the collagen as the oil! Improved body elasticity and decreased joint soreness have been noted in multiple studies on collagen benefits (3, 4).
Reduced Wrinkles & Overall Healthier Skin
This was a big pull for me to start using collagen regularly. Not so much the wrinkles (yet!) but I've always had acne issues. Many a study has shown the benefits of reduced wrinkles with the use of collagen (5), but the connection of collagen to acne clearing is harder. Studies are currently ongoing as to how exactly stress causes acne, though one article claims that the release of more oil from stress clogs your pores more readily, thus causing the nasty little buggers (6).
That being said, I dug around to see if the stress/leaky gut connection has anything to do with it, and it appears to do just that: stress can cause leaky gut, leaky gut can put you into a cycle of greater stress on the body (7), leaky gut can begin to be healed with collagen (1). So I'm not crazy in observing fewer breakouts from stress and from food since supplementing with collagen!
Increased Hair Thickness & Strength (8)
Here's the beauty section of the article: does collagen really make hair more luxurious? Well, according to a study by Wickett et. al. (8), it does. This study showed a significant increase in both tensility (strength) and thickness in the hair of subjects who were given collagen for a period of time, versus those not given collagen.
As for myself, I've always had thin hair but I've noticed a big decrease in breakage and I even stretch out my hairbands now. I credit this to a combination of eating better since going paleo and the added collagen to my diet.
Prebiotic Factors (9)
And since I'm a big pusher for gut health, I need to let y'all know that collagen is great for improving those little bacteria living in there. While a probiotic is something you injest that adds bacteria to your large intestine, a prebiotic is something that feeds the bacteria already there. Most traditionally-recognized prebiotics are carbohydtate-based, usually starchy. But some new studies have recently been published that prove collagen's benefit as a prebiotic in its own right - even though it's a protein (9). For me, that just proved my method of mixing some collagen into full-fat organic yogurt once in a while even more justifiable. Getting in those pro- AND prebiotics at once, ya feel?
So, what's the final word?
Based on this blossoming research and my own n=1 self experimentation with collagen, I think it's definitely worth trying to incorporate to your life for a few months to see what it can do for you. When combined with healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction, I think it could work wonders for you. Keep in mind that this is one of those things, like other lifestyle changes, that takes a bit of time. But if you grant it that, you could set yourself up to reap any or all of the benefits discussed here.
If you'd like to purchase some top-of-the-line collagen, click here.
(1) Bello, A. E., Oesser S. (October 10, 2006). Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Taylor & Francis Online. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1185/030079906x148373
(2) Axe, J. (2016). What is collagen? 7 ways collagen can boost your health. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/what-is-collagen/
(3) Bruyère, O. et. al. (January 20, 2012). Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: a 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22500661
(4) Clark, K. L. et. al. (April 15, 2008). 24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885
(5) De Luca, C. et. al. (January 19, 2016). Skin antiageing and systemic redox effects of supplementation with marine collagen peptides and plant-derived antioxidants: a single-blond case-control clinical study. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26904164
(6) Kam, K. (2016). Stress and acne. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/stress-and-acne#1
(7) Kresser, C. (March 23, 2012). How stress wreaks havoc on your gut - and what to do about it. Chris Kresser. Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/how-stress-wreaks-havoc-on-your-gut/
(8) Wickett, R. R. et. al. (December 2007). Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Springer Link. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00403-007-0796-z
(9) Sheveleva, S. A., Batishcheva S. (n.d.). Characteristics of collagen's material bifidogenic properties. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22642160
(10) n.a. (2016). Foods for healthy skin. Health & Eating Food. Retrieved from http://healtheatingfood.com/foods-for-healthy-skin/
(11) Horton, D. (n.d.). Kickback ent. Retrieved from fhttp://dantehortonphotography.com
(12) n.a. (n.d.). Welcome! River Oaks Wellness Center. Retrieved from http://riveroakswellnesscenter.com/
In planning for my trip to Florence for the summer (the term "planning" being used very loosely here) I knew one thing for sure: I did NOT want to deal with jet lag. Even though my stay there was long enough for me to consider myself living there for a bit, I didn't want to miss even a few days of the excitement due to a whack sleep schedule. Yes, I just said "whack." It's hip. Whack.
Luckily for me, I happened to see one of Ben Greenfield's talks at Paleo f(x) 2016 a week before I was supposed to leave. If you aren't familiar with him, Greenfield is essentially the definition of a "biohacker". This basically means he likes to find ways to enhance his health and athletic performance using the things available in this era, without disregarding evolution. Self-proclaimed biohackers tend to have a few things in common, including: an interest in paleo or pseudo-paleo diets for optimal food intake, alternative workouts that promote fitness AND wellbeing, mental health practices like meditation, all-natural products for body care. But they still tend to include breaking-edge technology to track their health statistics to see which variations of all of the above are really helping improve their health.
I can dig it.
So when Greenfield gave us his top 10 latest methods he's been using to biohack his performance, my ears perked up. One of the items included on the list was hot-cold therapy. This can be done in cold chambers and saunas if you have access to them like he does, but it works just as well in a shower that can change temperatures quickly. Greenfield claimed this was the way he beats his jet lag every time he travels... which is a lot of the time.
That same weekend, I also finally got to meet Sarah and the other lovely people of Vital Proteins. While chatting it up with them, I asked if they thought any of their products would potentially help with jet lag. Sarah immediately handed me a bottle of their Beef Liver Capsules. I didn't know it at the time, but the B-vitamins in beef liver are actually great at easing digestive issues, like...
Travel constipation (1). I know, TMI, but I always have to deal with this. It's apparently not uncommon, either (2).
From personal experience, I know the way I feel is also hugely influenced by how well I treat my gut. If I'm not eating pre- and probiotics regularly, I feel it. And as it turns out, I'm not wrong in drawing the connection between that and feeling less-than-stellar while traveling. Sitting for long periods of time can apparently cause clogging in the large intestine, where most of your gut bacteria lives. A normal amount of daily activity moves you around enough to prevent it, but you can't exactly get in 10,000 steps on a 10-hour flight (3). So I decided to pack the Primal Probiotics that I won a while back from Primal Blueprint Publishing, since I wasn't sure what the situation with those would be like in Italy.
And lastly, my dad is a seasoned overseas traveler. Upon his advice, I was to try and sleep as much as possible on the way to Europe, and try to keep myself awake for the even-longer trek back to the states, when the time came. So with my knowledge from Greenfield, a bottle of beef liver, a container of Primal Probiotics, and Woj's best words, I set foot on my first 20-hour journey across the big pond.
Sleeping on the plane over was easy enough with the free wine offered on the ride. Sorry not sorry about that. It was still strange stepping off in Munich to see that it was somehow morning again, but I can get on board with a time warp here and there. Once I made it to Florence, I made sure that the first few things I unpacked were the beef liver capsules and probiotics. I took a serving of each and was #blessed to avoid the travel constipation that evening.
I didn't shower until the next morning, because my luggage had been lost on the flight over so I didn't have a change of clothes. Luckily, my rockstar roommate (s/o to you, Hannah!) let me borrow the essentials to wash the world off my body. I tried the hot/cold therapy tips recommended by Greenfield: 30 seconds of cold water, 10 of hot. Switch back and forth like this for several minutes and your nervous system will be hopping so much, your body clock suddenly decides you're fully awake. And it worked just as promised! I faced a day full of the labyrinth that is Florence without much of an issue. That morning and the following few began this way, plus a serving of beef liver right after the shower. The probiotic capsules helped me out each night, as I took one right before bed until finding some yogurt I trusted enough to ease me off those capsules.
On my return trip, I knew things would be trickier. Staying awake for 24 hours is never a good idea when you're me. Mama needs her 8 hours. I'm basically the worst college student ever.
However, I took a dose each of the beef liver and probiotics again before bidding "ciao!" to my home for the summer, and managed to stay awake with lots of coffee help until I made it back to Austin. I passed out for the night, and made myself take another hot/cold shower the next morning. I was tired that next day from the travel, and I let myself be lazy but avoided napping. I managed to make it through a full day back on Texas time awake and my body clock was reset by the second day after I returned home!
So, the list of things to do (which is probably the only thing you came to this article to read anyway, yes?):
- If you're traveling to a time zone later than yours (east on a map with the Atlantic ocean at the center), sleep on the way there and stay awake on the way home. If you're traveling to a time zone earlier than yours (west on a map with the Atlantic ocean at the center), do the opposite.
- Utilize hot/cold shower therapy to wake yourself up when you want to be awake in the new time zone.
- Supplement with Vital Proteins Beef Liver capsules & quality probiotics, like Primal Probiotics, to avoid travel constipation.
Oh, and remember to ENJOY your trip! :)
(1) Holland, K., Carter, A. (March 25, 2016). 5 vitamins that can relieve constipation. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/vitamins-for-constipation#1
(2) Monastersky, Konstantin. (2016). What causes traveler's constipation?. Gut Sense. Retrieved from https://www.gutsense.org/constipation/travel.html
(3) Bloudoff-Indelicato, M. (December 28, 2015). The science behind vacation constipation. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/12/all-i-got-for-christmas-was-constipation/422046/
(4) St. Pierre, B. (n.d.) Eliminating jeg lag: strategies to reduce, even avoid, symptoms. Precision Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-jet-lag
(5) n.a. (n.d.) Setting up your shower valve: a smart solution for your bathroom. Delta Monitor Shower Faucet. Retrieved from http://deltamonitorshowerfaucet.net/setting-up-your-shower-valve-a-smart-solution-for-your-bathroom
(6) Elizabeth, H. (June 15, 2016). #STOP. Facebook.