Training and Nutrition

Knowledge of Nutrition is Power

We’ve all likely heard the phrases “knowledge is power” and “we are what we eat”.  When it comes to nutrition, knowledge truly is powerful but it might not be what we think, at least in conventional terms.  We often think of food as a means to satisfy our hunger, sustain life and to manage or reduce our body weight.  The foods we eat also play a vital role in illness and disease prevention and recovery, inflammation, energy capacity, and untimely performance on the mat as well as in our daily lives.  Conventional education attempts to define nutrition with the four foods groups (food pyramid).  Unfortunately, this approach is largely politically motivated and has very little to do with the actual science behind optimal nutrition to maximize human performance and potential. In the coming weeks and months we’ll discuss various aspects of proper nutrition.  While nutrition can get rather technically complicated, the aim within this blog is to provide a simple framework to change and sustain better eating habits to optimize performance in Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai as well as in our daily lives.

Understanding Digestion (aka. Flow)

Let’s start this first blog by simply considering that our body is a production facility, in particular a chemical factory. To make any production facility work at optimal levels requires flow, energy and outputs.  The first aspect we’ll consider is flow or “digestion”, which is one of the most underappreciated aspects of nutrition.  Without effective flow, the rest of the nutrients we eat are compromised (decrease nutrient absorption).  Digestive health is fundamental to overall health. The aim of digestive health is to maintain regular flow.  We gauge our digestion by the regularity of bowel movements, which should be at least once per day and approximately at the same time of day.

Unfortunately in the US our diets are filled with foods that prevent flow or inhibit digestion.  Digestive performance or “flow” is optimized by increased consumption of raw and unprocessed foods, vegetables (e.g., kale, spinach and other greens, i.e., “roughage”) and high fiber containing foods. Meats should not be overcooked as it causes the digestive system works harder.  Reducing consumption of dairy products (milk and cheese) and replacing them with almond, coconut or flax milk is another element to effective digestion.  Consider that humans are the only mammals past the age of 3 that consume dairy products.  Gastrointestinal (GI) tract supplements, such as probiotoics and GI formulas (e.g., GI Revive http://catalog.designsforhealth.com/GI-Revive-Powder ), can also be used as required.

I have realized significant health benefits by adopting these eating habits along with modest GI supplementation.  Till the next nutrition post…All the best!

Jason Dickens, PhD

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