Your diet provides the building blocks of muscle, energy, and ultimately, progress. But what’s a tank full of gas worth if it’s attached to a shoddy engine? Your digestive system is the ultimate barrier to gains. You need to know how to use it to its full potential.
There are four main aspects to athletic success:
- Biochemical environment and genetics
Each of these aspects can be further broken down into vitally important sub-sections.
Peering into the depths of the athletic diet, gut health is a massively important factor in reaching your goals. Poor gut health, which can arise for any number of reasons, presents a huge obstacle.
If your digestive system is not working correctly, you will never get the optimal benefit from the nutrients that you ingest, no matter how great your dietary regime may be. Knowing how to look after your digestive system, diagnose problems as they arise, and decide what course of action is necessary is a major feather on the cap of any athlete.
Symptoms of Poor Gut Health
There are many symptoms of poor digestive health and efficiency. Thankfully, most common symptoms are quite noticeable, and easy to identify and therefore attend to. However, some may creep up and lurk undetected, and some symptoms may never even be linked to the gut without the intervention of a healthcare professional or the application of a little valuable knowledge.
Here are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Gas (either end)
- Feeling unusually full
- Soreness in the mouth and/or throat
- Soreness of the rectal area
- Hot or cold sweats
- Bad Breath
- Abdominal pain
- Yeast infections
- Abnormalities or changes in the hair and nails
- Body odor
- Skin complaints
- Tiredness and/or weakness
- Joint pain
- Recurrent infections
- Weight loss…
This list could go on and on. The digestive system lies at the core of the human body, and is vital for life. Defects can affect almost any bodily system in a vast array of manners. Any persistent medical complaint, no matter how trivial it may seem, should be assessed by a healthcare professional.
The digestive process is an extremely complex affair. This should come as no surprise whatsoever.
The journey of transforming the food that sits on your plate into an array of energy sources, revitalizing molecules, essential nutrients, and other vital components is hard for even the most accomplished scientist to wrap their head around.
One of the most important aspects of digestion is absorption.
Absorption is the short journey made by digested nutrients from the gut to the bloodstream for use by the tissues.
Healthy absorption is essential to gut, and overall, health. It’s no good breaking food down if you are unable to transport the goodness across the intestinal wall and into the body.
Absorption is a highly complex process and malabsorption of just one nutrient can have a dramatically negative effect on sporting performance and general health. Isolated malabsorption issues can be more difficult to diagnose, but for overall absorption, there is a gold standard test called the charcoal test.
- Obtain some charcoal tablets from your local pharmacy or health food store
- Follow instructions, but preferably take tablets on an empty stomach
- Wait for charcoal to re-emerge… use your imagination…
- If the charcoal has taken less than 12, or more than 24 hours to make an appearance, you may have an absorption issue. Speak to a healthcare professional.
An adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is absolutely essential for the maintenance of good digestive health. They provide the little intermediary steps, carriers, and building blocks of proper gut function. Each person has their own individual requirements that are hugely influenced by activity and lifestyle, as well as genetics. For the most part, excess vitamin and mineral intake is excreted, meaning that supplemental intake is not only safe, but recommended. Sheer Total has been engineered with highly active male athletes in mind. The scientific formula will provide your body with all those little extras that it requires to recover and progress to its full potential.
Love Your Bacteria
The human gut is filled with billions upon billions of bacteria. But don’t worry, you need them there. In the healthy gut, they are beneficial… no, crucial to proper digestive function. These little critters roam around performing specific jobs and manipulating their environment for the good of themselves and for us.
However, deep inside all of us is a dark and brutal war. The GOOD bacteria that we so rely upon are constantly at odds with the BAD bacteria that we procure and feed through our various daily encounters and decisions.
Maintaining an optimal bacterial balance is needed for tip top digestive and overall health. (Are you getting it yet? Gut health and overall well being go hand in hand!) If the scales tip the wrong way, other organisms, such as yeast, can grow out of control, leading to many potentially serious problems.
The good news is that there are foods that you can consume that help to bolster the forces of GOOD bacteria. Only a small amount per day is often successful. These foods include:
- Live Yogurt
- Fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut
- Other fermented foods, such as miso
Hydration should never be taken lightly.
Sure, you’ve heard it all before, but adequate hydration is essential to every function of the human body, and gut health is certainly no exception.
Water is vital for the smooth flowing of the various mechanical and chemical processes that convert your food into your goals.
Even a 2% drop in hydration status can have devastating results.
Integral to the smooth running of your digestive system, and virtually every other system within the body from protein synthesis to the creation of testosterone, is a big lump of blood-drenched flesh. Take a bow for… your liver! The liver is an extremely versatile, and thankfully incredibly hardy, little beast of an organ, but it still needs a little TLC. Containing powerful and scientifically proven, liver cleansing ingredients, such as N-acetyl cysteine and milk thistle extract, Sheer Health Liver Support is a valuable addition to your daily supplement intake.
Your lifestyle can have a major effect on your gut health.
To cut a very long story short, any kind of toxin (drug) introduced to the system can have a negative impact. Alcohol is your number one enemy. While everyone is entitled to let their hair down every once in awhile, regular consumption of even a relatively small amount of alcohol can wreck your digestion and absorption.
Doctors have a habit of throwing antibiotics at patients for every possible ailment. Antibiotics can reset gut flora to a dangerously basic and ineffective level. While abstinence from prescribed medication is not advised, seeking a second professional opinion from time to time certainly is.
Time for a brief chemistry lesson.
The digestive system runs on enzyme function. Nothing would happen at all without these potent little catalysts opening doors and introducing molecules to their makers.
It is extremely common for enzyme deficiencies to occur, especially in extreme diet situations.
Adding a few enzyme rich foods to your daily nutritional intake will go a long way to ensuring that your body is never lacking in enzyme activity.These foods are generally of the very fresh or raw variety. In fact, another whole article could easily be written on enzymes alone. However, good foods to get stuck into include:
- Fresh fruit and veg (especially papaya, avocado and pineapple)
- Fermented veg
- Raw eggs (careful!)
- Raw mushrooms
There are a few common irritant foods that can really place your digestive system under strain. These are foods that disrupt or even damage various parts of the digestive process. These foods need to be limited, especially if you are experiencing symptoms of poor gut health. Sadly, these are often some of the most tasty nibbles. Some irritant foods are:
- High fat foods
- Processed foods
- Acidic foods (many fruit juices)
Post-workout is a hugely important time to get your nutrition right. Sheer Build is a superb scientifically engineered post-workout supplement designed to help you get the absolute most from your efforts in the gym. Sheer Build contains glutamine, a greatly beneficial amino acid that has been shown to speed up recovery, as well as repair and protect the digestive tract, facilitating healthy, optimal gut health.
It must be remembered that we are all very different. A diet that works for one person may be toxic to another. A food that irritates one, may inspire health and vitality in the next man.
Listen to your body. If a certain food causes symptoms of gut problems, remove it from your diet.
There is no one single food that is so important to athletic performance and anabolism that it can’t be ejected from the diet for the greater good. Write your own rules.
Lastly, stay calm.
Stress is a major cause of serious gastric distress.
The chemistry of stress is so potent that it can kill you.
Have a constant churn in your stomach?
Food not digesting well?
Firstly, evaluate your life for unhealthy stressors.
Look after yourself.