by Tina Van Horn, Research and Business Development Coordinator at SL Technology, Inc., a Reliv Company
Redefining Sports Nutrition
The term “sports nutrition” invokes images of buff gym rats lugging around kegs of protein powder, as well as lithe distance runners throwing back concoctions of carbs and electrolytes en route to the finish line. Yes, these types of athletes have unique nutritional needs and use specialty supplements to support their performance goals. But sports nutrition can benefit more than just elite athletes. In fact, you don’t have to be an “athlete” at all to benefit from the research and products labeled for sport.
Elite-level athletes must be in tune with their bodies, and they have high expectations from their nutrition regimen. Dietary choices must address energy, endurance, performance, recovery and repair. Meeting these demands requires attention to macronutrients that support daily energy production and micronutrients that sustain health and promote optimal performance. Falling short in either category leads to short term effects on performance, as well as long-term effects on general health and well-being.
Current research in sports nutrition is adding a new dimension to the conversation — inflammation. As more research becomes available and the link between diet and inflammation is understood, athletes are poised to reap the immediate benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation
Acute inflammation can be a good thing. It is a normal physiological response to physical activity that allows for conditioning and muscle strength gains. The inflammation process repairs damage during the recovery period, which begins about two hours after a workout, and typically resolves after 48 hours. Inflammation also promotes training adaptations leading to strength and endurance gains.
Swelling and redness are visual signs of acute inflammation, which is commonly associated with injury (think sprained ankle). Pain and discomfort are also typically present with acute inflammation. These responses inform athletes that they have exerted themselves beyond their physical ability. Although many athletes try to push through injury, sooner or later the symptoms prevail and treatment is required. Rest, ice, compression and anti-inflammatory agents are the standard of care, in most cases.
End of story? Not quite. Chronic inflammation is far less obvious, but far more insidious. It is often described as a smoldering fire that keeps your immune system in a constant state of alert. Chronic inflammation is a low-grade, systemic condition linked to diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, auto-immune disorders and aging. The symptoms of chronic inflammation are vague and typically acknowledged only as a component of other conditions.
Addressing chronic inflammation is imperative for wellness, disease prevention and healthy aging. It also can be detrimental to active lifestyles and sports performance. When the immune system is in this constant state of alert, joints and soft tissue (ligaments, tendons, cartilage) become more susceptible to acute and over-use injuries.
Systemic inflammation also has the following effects on performance:
- Decreasing endurance
- Increasing soreness and recovery time after strenuous activity
- Impairing muscle synthesis
- Intensifying perceived exertion
- Disrupting cellular energy production
In general terms, inflammation can make workouts feel more difficult, sabotage results, extend recovery time and diminish energy levels.
Lifestyle (Epigenetic) Mediators of Inflammation
How do we extinguish this inflammatory fire? Moderate, daily exercise has been linked to decreases in biomarkers associated with chronic inflammation. But athletes must be cautious. Without appropriate recovery time, exercise can induce an inflammatory state, commonly referred to as over-training.
The primary culprit for a chronic inflammatory state: your diet. Saturated fats, trans fats, sugar and other simple carbohydrates are all linked to higher inflammation levels. Conversely, diet is also the first line of defense against inflammation. Many prominent health practitioners have now endorsed anti-inflammatory diets to improve wellness and as therapy for disease conditions.
Mother Nature is the leading supplier of anti-inflammatory compounds. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains deliver anti-inflammatory micronutrients and bioactive compounds. Produce with deeper and richer colors (dark greens, berries, beets, pineapple, etc.) in particular contain antioxidants and bioactive ingredients that fight inflammation. Omega 3 fats, found in cold-water fish and nuts, also decrease inflammatory biomarkers. And research has established the lunasin and isoflavones in soy as anti-inflammatory powerhouses.
While athletes may be conscious of their dietary choices, consuming foods rich in these anti-inflammatory compounds is still challenging, as it is for all of us. Dietary supplementation is a convenient way to assure you are meeting your micronutrient needs to fight inflammation and support optimal physical performance.
You to Super You
LunaRich® Super Pack inflammation fighters — and dietary sources:
- Lunasin (active ingredient in LunaRich): soy
- Pycnogenol®: pine bark extract, grape seeds, peanut skins
- Cayenne: cayenne pepper extract
- Papain: papaya
- Bromelain: pineapple
- Rutin: buckwheat, amaranth, figs
- Licorice root
The combination of Reliv Now® and LunaRich X™ also delivers additional vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support optimal physical performance, whether you are an athlete or simply looking to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Learn more at reliv.com/superpack.