Anyone that exercises regularly is certainly familiar with the muscle and joint soreness that accompanies tough workouts, particularly a day or two afterwards. So what’s going on here in the body that causes the onset of sore and stiff muscles? The simplest answer is tissue inflammation. By better understanding inflammation and learning ways to control the symptoms can lead to faster recovery times, fitness gains, and most importantly avoiding injuries.
To get started, let’s look at what inflammation actually is, in simple terms. It is an immune system response to damage that’s occurred to the tissues. Exercise causes damage to the tissues by causing microscopic tears to the muscle fibers. As a result of this damage, inflammation occurs around the site of the tears….which is actually the body’s way of repairing the damage. In turn, once the tears have healed the muscles become stronger, so in this sense, inflammation is a good thing. Yet inflammation, while it repairs muscle damage, actually in turn causes further damage to the tissues. This secondary damage is caused by the release of free radicals, which we’ll look at more in depth a bit later. This secondary damage is the culprit behind that soreness one to two days after a hard workout, which actually has a name of its own…. Delayed-onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is where the risk of injury comes in to play. When we do not allow for adequate recovery from this tissue damage and jump back into hard exercise, joints and muscles can become chronically inflamed or lead to serious injury. This is how overuse injuries occur, such as IT Band syndrome or Runner’s Knee which can literally take months to recover from.
So how can we limit the amount of inflammation and tissue damage that occurs from exercise? Well in terms of exercise, by using the process of progression, you can make sure that the body is adequately trained for the amount of work you are putting it through. In terms of endurance training, the rule of thumb is not to increase workouts by more than 10% in distance or duration per week for 3 weeks out of the month, then engaging in a recovery week every fourth week, in which you reduce total workout duration by 20-40%. We can also manage inflammation in the body to some degree through diet. Foods high in antioxidants have been show to assist in both preventing inflammation and in repairing tissue damage associated with it. It is important that we understand what antioxidants are in order to see how they can benefits us in this regard. Antioxidants are substances that inhibit the destructive effects of oxidation. Oxidation is a process that occurs in the body in which free radicals are produced, which in turn can lead to cellular damage or destruction. Antioxidants also assist in circulation and digestion. Foods which are rich in antioxidants are dark green vegetables such as greens and broccoli. Brightly colored fruits are also high in antioxidants such as cherries, berries, and mangos. It is important to eat these raw as often as possible, as cooking can cause a breakdown of the vitamins and nutrients.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation. Fatty, cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel are high in Omega-3. Non meat sources are hemp and flax seeds and avocado. Certain spices have anti-inflammation characteristics such as ginger, black pepper, garlic and turmeric.
Other ways to deal with inflammation include the R.I.C.E. method of treatment which stands for Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Pretty self-explanatory stuff there. NSAID's are also medications that many people choose to use (Ibuprofin) which have anti-inflammatory effects, to help control swelling and the pain associated with inflammation.
Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on inflammation and ways to prevent and manage some of its symptoms. In many ways, it really is just a part of hard workouts, yet by knowing a little more about what's actually occurring in the body, we are better prepared to handle it, move on, and avoid injuries. Learn more about our wellness services and how we can help you achieve a higher level of function at our website www.pranachiro.com
In Wellness and Love,
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a widely used sweetener that is a cheap alternative to table sugar. It was developed in the 1970’s and began being used in the food industry across the board in the practically everything from crackers to soda by the 1980's. If you have watched television in the last couple of years, you may have noticed commercials claiming that there is no difference between High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or what they call in the ads as “corn sugar” and cane sugar. The reason for these advertisements stems from the surge of research and literature exposing many of dangers associated with the use of HFCS. There is absolutely no truth to the advertisement's claims that the body does not know the difference between the two types of sugars. While it is true that using any sugar in excess is detrimental to health (so in this way, I suppose there is one similarity) HFCS presents many unique dangers to consumers. The problem is compounded by the fact that even when used in moderate amounts, HFCS causes heart disease, cancer, obesity, tooth decay, liver failure and more. There is also some link between HFCS use and dementia.
A recent study conducted by a research team at Princeton University determined that HFCS causes a substantially higher rate of fat gain than fruit based sugars. In the study, some rats were given the same amount of a fruit-derived sugar while others were given HFCS. Those rats given the HFCS gained fat 300% more quickly than the others given the fruit based sugar! This literally means that HFCS leads to obesity. As we in America are seeing ever-increasing numbers of obese adults, roughly 1 in 4 Americans and projected to be close to 1 in 2 by 2018, most people continue to consume huge amounts of HFCS.
High fructose corn syrup consumption leads to a much higher risk of developing Type-II Diabetes (see a previous blog post I did on diabetes). The biochemical make-up of HFCS is the reason behind this. HFCS is made up of both glucose and fructose, as is natural table sugar, yet HFCS consists at a ratio of 55% fructose and 45% glucose (table sugar is 50%-50%). There is also no chemical bond between the fructose and glucose in HCFS, as there is in table sugar. Therefore, no digestion is required for HFCS, and it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. The fructose goes right to the liver and causes potential damage to the organ and leads to fat deposits on the liver. The rapidly absorbed glucose can trigger spikes in insulin, which causes fat storage. Both of these reactions cause diabetes and the other conditions listed in the first paragraph of this blog post.
There is research to support the claim that HFCS can actually strip the body of vitamins and minerals it needs for normal functioning such as magnesium, chromium and copper, as HFCS requires nutrients to be metabolized.
HFCS has been demonstrated to cause elevations in both blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (the bad one). It can also lead to holes in the lining of the stomach which can in turn allow bacteria from the stomach to enter into the blood stream.
One test conducted by the federal government found HFCS samples to contain mercury. Over 50% of the samples tested contained alarmingly high levels of the contaminant. Mercury is not regulated or measured by the FDA. The scary part is mercury can cause both brain and nervous system damage, neither of which I care to experience!
It’s no secret, Americans, as a society, are gaining more and more weight each year. This includes children, which is especially troubling to me. Instead of constantly trying to find a magic weight-loss pill, we as a country must learn to identify the food products that we consume that are causing not only obesity, but also many of the health problems we are seeing in this country. High fructose corn syrup is not the same as other natural sugars and there is irrefutable scientific research that has linked HFCS to many detrimental effects on the body. So do yourself a favor and start reading food labels at the grocery store. If a food contains HFCS in the list of ingredients, I say find another product that does not. Your body is a miraculous thing and therefore it should be treated that way through healthy eating and living! For more healthy living tips and to learn about the health and wellness services that we provide at PRANA Chiropractic and Wellness Center, visit www.pranachiro.com
In Wellness and Love,
"The Not So Sweet Truth About HFCS." 2011. Mark Hyman, MD. Published on huffingtonpost.com
"5 Health Dangers of HFCS." 2010. Dr. Edward Group III, DC, ND. Global Heath Center.
"Dangers of HFCS." www.livestrong.com/article/139744-dangers-high-fructose-corn-syrup/
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.