As a runner who has been running for most of your life, you develop the gift of being able to understand the subtle messages that your body sends you. From something as simple as when your muscles are really sore; (Wow I really pushed myself during that workout), to something more specific like when I use Vega Sport mixed drink instead of Gatorade, (I recover faster). Your body is an intelligent vessel that sends you messages all the time, you just need to tune in and listen to it.
The problem today is that our environment can be very toxic and the small warning signs your body sends you tend to occur more frequently and pretty soon those messages are no longer an alarm to inspect further, but instead become your normal. What I am trying to say is, instead of feeling 100% good all the time you may only feel 80% but think that this is your normal when really there is another 20% that can be tapped into. As a runner do you think that 20% will change your performance? Of course it will and it will improve your quality of life too.
Lets look at this a little deeper: essentially our body’s energy comes from the food we eat, so if what we put into our bodies is healthy then we should be fine, right? Here’s the catch: the food we eat can turn into nutrients or poison, depending on the integrity of our digestive system; that is why some people can eat what is considered a healthy meal and still feel lousy.
When we look back at our ancestors and see what they ate we soon realize that it was quite different, it was all about hunting and gathering, they ate what grew in their gardens and what they could hunt or fish from the wild. I’m sure you all have a family story of that hardy family member that had a life like this and lived till they were 90+. I’m not saying we all need to become hunters and gatherers but it gives us a reference as to what has happened. We have become rich we live in an environment where we have the convenience (or curse) of buying absolutely anything at any time from our local grocery store. Bananas and pineapples from Hawaii, mangos from Mexico, star fruit from the Philippines. I am sure you are thinking “Well those all sound good for you, fruit is healthy,” The truth is this has developed into something we call “Eating Too GOOD.” Yes, I said it right, you can eat too good. Please don’t stop reading here; it will all make sense in a minute. I have been working with a very well known Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Jonn Matsen, who has written several books, his most recent one being Eating Alive II. Throughout his life’s work he has discovered how people can get sick or not achieve their optimal potential by eating too good.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are very high in potassium and low in sodium. When we eat them year round this potassium/sodium gradient is read by the kidneys as saying it is summer outside and the body doesn’t need to activate our Vitamin D because we will get it from the sun. For those of you that live anywhere in the North you know that it is not tropical weather here year round and if we are not making vitamin D from the sun and we are eating all these high potassium fresh fruits and vegetables year round then we are tricking our kidneys into thinking we live in Hawaii and they deactivate our vitamin D, and in turn, we become deficient. I am not telling you that you need to cut out all your fresh fruits and vegetables that you enjoy, I’m just saying that you need to try to eat with the seasons in the area you live in and if you do eat plants high in potassium in the winter you need to salt them so that the sodium/potassium gradient is more equal and the kidneys still know that they need to activate Vitamin D.
So what is so important about this Vitamin D anyways? Vitamin D allows our bodies to absorb calcium. If we don’t absorb calcium, which is an essential vitamin to our bones, muscles and several other physiological processes in our body then we start to run into problems! There is something called the ileocecal valve, this valve is located between your small and large intestine. If you run 5 days low on calcium because you are “Eating Too Good,” this valve opens and yeast and bad bacteria from your large intestine can now backflow into your small intestine. Where they are extremely toxic. The purpose of your small intestine is to absorb all the nutrients you eat, not all the toxins from your large intestine. This gives the bad bacteria and yeast a direct line into your blood, which is filtered by your liver. When you jam up your liver with toxins from your gut, it can become overwhelmed and start spilling out very toxic peroxides into your blood, lymph and kidneys.
Another thing that slows down your liver’s processes is “EATING too BAD” which is a diet that includes: alcohol, sugar (that also feeds the yeast), preservatives, coffee, chips, pop, etc, etc because they slow down the detoxifying enzymes in your liver. So here’s a recap: you can have your liver burdened with the toxins spilling from your gut (because you are low in calcium and that ileocecal valve is open letting in bad bacteria and yeast into your small intestine): these toxins are then absorbed into the blood and they need to be filtered out of the blood, which puts stress on the liver. At the same time, if you are eating too bad you are slowing down all the detoxifying enzymes that the liver is using to deal with all the toxins coming from the bad guys in the gut. It can be a vicious cycle.
Having toxic peroxides spill into your blood and lymph can cause all sorts of diseases especially if this cycle continues for years, let alone it causes your bodies energy to focus on trying to fix the damage that the toxic peroxides are causing, instead of giving you more energy to run! It is truly amazing that you can get just as sick from “eating too good” as “eating too bad”. When looking to discover why everyone’s ileocecal valve has blown out we don’t have to look far. All of the social media is telling people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cut out salt; this comes from the Californian diet, which is fine if you live in California and you are also out in the sun.
There was another study done in a seniors home in California because the people there did not think that the elderly could be low in Vitamin D: “it’s California; there is lots of sun!!!!” The majority of the patients in the home were found to be deficient in Vitamin D, and here’s why: most older people don’t enjoy the sun; they prefer to be inside! This tells us that it doesn’t matter where you live; if you are inside for the majority of the day and not in the sun you still need to take Vitamin D and eat a balanced diet richer in sodium to tell your kidneys you are not getting the Vitamin D from the sun.
Now you guys are thinking: “Ok this lady is crazy! Eat more SALT!!!! “ The social media and health care profession have told us not to eat salt especially if we have high blood pressure. The reason is our salt source is processed sodium chloride. This table salt only contains 2 minerals that can be an irritant to your kidneys forcing your blood pressure to rise. What we should be using is sea salt, which contains 74 other minerals that are co-factors for all your bodies’ enzyme processes. It still doesn’t contain iodine, so eating sea vegetables is also a good idea. As a runner it is essential that you reach your highest potential. You are all incredible athletes, your bodies are fine tuned machines and can just be that much more efficient for you if you understand the basic physiology of your body and realize that our ancestors had it figured out and that the conveniences of today’s grocery stores can actually be a detriment.
In summary; don’t eat TOO GOOD, don’t eat TOO BAD, eat with the seasons, salt your vegetables with SEA salt, take calcium every morning and away from your iron because we all know how runners battle with their ferritin numbers and calcium inhibits it absorption, take Vitamin D if its winter or if you primarily work or go to school inside, eat whole foods that are not processed and you may also want to use milk thistle for liver support to aid in liver detoxification. I hope this information is useful to many of you and I wish you happy, healthy and energy filled running.
Dr. Natalie Groenewoud is a Naturopathic Doctor at Northshore Naturopathic Clinic in North Vancouver, BC and is an avid athlete. Natalie enjoys using Naturopathic Medicine to finely tune the amazing physiology of the human body.
Dr. Natalie Groenewoud N.D.
156 West 3rd St
North Vancouver, BC
604 986 7774
Follow Natalie’s Blog: www.dr.nataliegroenewoud.com