Monday, July 28, 2008

Is What You’re Eating Killing Your Performance?

The more I read about athletic performance and work with athletes and Type-A personality business men and women, the more I realize good nutrition is vital - and quite hard to get in this country. The more I read about good nutrition, the more I realize your health depends on the health of the food you eat. (as a side note, the more I read and learn about nutrition, the more I confirm that being a vegetarian is wrong too. But, that's for another blog post)

So, you’re out there training hard and recovering as best you can so you can go back out and train real hard again. It’s a constant cycle and it’s always about making gains. Each time you go out there you want to exceed what you did the time before. But what if the food you’re eating is killing your performance?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and questioning what I (think I) know is healthy and have been quite intrigued by the answers I’ve come up with. The most common answer has to the question of “is what I’m eating healthy” has been yes and no, it depends.

For example.

Is Salmon healthy? Yes and No. It Depends.

Here’s why.

If you’re talking about Wild salmon, the answers is yes, it’s definitely healthy. It has spent it’s life living in its natural environment, eating its natural diet which give you all the nutritional benefits you’ve come to expect when you sit down to eat salmon.

But, it you’re talking about farm raised salmon the answer is no.

Why? Because the farm raised salmon is in a confined environment (which means it lives in a high stress environment without being able to exercise as it swims thousands of miles throughout its life. The Salmon lives in a chemically toxic water (would you want to dine where you and your room mates urinate or defecate?). The farmed salmon is fed a grain diet, much different than the natural diet of a wild salmon.

Why is everyone Wild about salmon anyway? Simply put.... It's The Omega-3 Fish Oils.

Salmon are naturally carnivores. They eat mackerel, sardines, herring, krill, shrimp and other fish. When they eat their natural diet, they are chock full of those very healthful Omega-3s. As Jonny Bowden, PhD puts it in his exceptional dissertation The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, wild salmon is the “Best Source of Omega-3s on the Planet”

Omega-3 oils are natural anti-inflammatory Cox-2 inhibitors.

Now you should also know that Wild Salmon also contains Omega-6s. A very low dose dosage when compared to Omega-3s. Hence, there is a natural balance of the anti-inflammatory Omega-3s to the pro-inflammatory Omega-6s. Suffice it to say there are much more Omega-3s in Wild Salmon than Omega-6s, which means, it’s good for you.

BUT…That’s NOT true in farm raised salmon.

Not only is it not true, it’s the opposite.

There are much more Omega-6s in farmed salmon than omega 3s. So, not only is farm raised salmon not good for you, it’s actually unhealthy for you.

Sorry sushi lovers, most of your salmon is farmed. Not wild. You have to ask the sushi chef or restaurant owner to know for sure.

So, if you’re trying to perform your best, recover from your last workout or prevent your next heart attack and stroke, farm raised salmon isn’t helping even a “wee” bit. It’s probably actually hurting you.

I stopped eating beef 12 1/2 years ago because of the Mad Cow scare going on. And, it wasn't from Oprah's show of that year, it was a news magazine story that I saw and it just didn't sit well with me. Too much of my food was coming from people simply trying to make a buck and not caring how they made it. Cow farmers grinding up dead diseased cows and mixing them back into their vegetarian feed just didn't make sense to me. Forget the fact they were diseased, a cow is a vegetarian, this just wasn't right.

Turns out I was right. Not only do most of our beef cattle today not eat their natural food (grass), they are fed a diet of genetically modified corn (which is 100% of the corn on the commercial market today including the stuff YOU eat), but it's mixed with soy and other stuff (stuff being animal by products) as well. Some people are proud to proclaim that their cattle is natural 100% corn fed. To that I say, so freaking what! Corn isn't a cow's natural diet, grass is and the meat produced by it is crapola. They should be grazing in a field getting fat over the course of 4-5 years. Instead, they feed them corn and they get fat in 16-18 months. So, with some rare logical thinking, I hit the nail on the head with my reasoning.

Do you want to eat beef? There really are some wonderful health benefits to 100% Natural Grass Fed Grazing Beef. Did you know this kind of beef actually has some beneficial Omega-3s??? When you cook the beef, some of the saturated fat turns into CLA, conjugated linoleic acid, another healthy fat that has been shown to get rid of your belly... BUT THOSE HEATLHFUL BENEFITS AREN'T IN the mass produced cows that you find represented at your favorite steak house or in your local grocery store. So, buyer beware (If you want to know more about how your food goes from the farm/field to your plate, read The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan). Although to find it, you'll have to go to a Whole Foods or find a 100% Natural Organic cattle farm (which you can find on the internet). Remember, 100% is the key. Not just organic, not just natural. (You can thank your government for screwing up the terms natural and organic to where you have to now look for "100%")

Remember the phrase: “You Are What You Eat” ??? You’ve probably heard it growing up and a few times since… But, I’m gonna change that phrase for you (you can thank me later) because it’s not nearly complete. It should be: You are What THEY Eat.

Because what your food eats, drinks and absorbs, makes a HUGE difference in your health. Here’s the question you need to ask……Is your food eating it’s natural diet?

Not is it eating “A” natural diet….is your food eating “IT’S” natural diet.

If you remember nothing else about nutrition or health, remember that. Your health, your athletic performance depends on the health of the food that your food eats. Over millions of years, we’ve evolved as part of a food chain. Luckily we’re on the top of that chain (except for the occasional surfer or SCUBA diver). So logic tells you when you mess with the food chain and try to circumvent it, you mess with your health.

If you continue to eat a diet that’s not native for the species you're eating, not only will your performance suffer, but eventually, disease will follow.

Bottom Line: Your health depends on the food that your food eats.

‘nuff said

Oh....One more thought....
Have you ever traveled to another country, ate the food of the land and then discovered that when you returned you felt great and lost weight.... Ponder that for a while and ask yourself why.
That happened to me when I traveled to Colombia for 2 1/2 week in July 2006.


Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Please Don't Eat The Wallpaper

I enjoyed her book so much, I asked her to write a "guest blog" here at Natural Sports Medicine Blog. She agreed. So, here are a few words of wisdom from Dr. Nancy Irven, author of Please Don't Eat The Wallpaper.


Doc T

In my book, “Please Don’t Eat The Wallpaper!,” I tell my story about volunteering at the local high school to educate fourteen year old students on better nutrition. One of the letters I received from a student said, “Dr. Nancy you surprised me. I thought when Mrs. Powell told us that we were going to be learning about nutrition, that we’d be learning something pretty boring. Not something life changing! I can’t tell you how much this helped my family and I eat better.”

I teach the students to stay away from refined grains, trans fats and refined sugars, primarily high fructose corn syrup. I teach them to eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. What makes this life changing for a fourteen year old? I remind them of the healthy foods they do like, but have forgotten about and encourage them to eat those foods. I gave them a sheet of paper with eleven headings: Vegetables, Fruits, Meat/Eggs, Dairy, Beans/Legumes, Whole Grains, Nuts/Seeds, Herbs/Seasonings, Condiments/Oils, Sweeteners, and Beverages. I asked the students to raise their hands and tell me what vegetables they liked. The room was full of students with their hands up! As they started naming all the various vegetables, I asked them to write down the ones they liked. One girl in the back of the room started laughing. When I asked her why she was laughing she exclaimed with enthusiasm, “I like fifteen vegetables and I didn’t even know it!” Now she knows what she can eat. One student was thrilled to learn that it was okay to eat mashed potatoes with butter and milk. We went through all eleven headings and even the picky eaters discovered at least twenty or more good whole foods they actually liked. I simply encouraged them to eat those foods regularly. I gave them no restrictions on any whole food. I helped them understand that if humans have been eating a food for thousands of
years, then the answer is … yes!

I helped them understand that if humans have been eating a food for thousands of
years, then the answer is … yes!

This means I said yes to saturated fat in the form of red meat, cheese, butter, and dairy. The present generation of teenagers has been raised in a “zero fat” environment and many of them believe that any fat is bad. I teach them this is not correct. I have seen that if they can eat nature’s fats in any form, they eat less man-made fat, which is the real health threat. According to Harvard, reported in Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “The Trouble With Trans Fat.” March, 2004, Vol 11, no.7, over 30,000 women die each year of heart attacks and strokes due to trans fat consumption in the United States. This study did not even include men.

If you would like more information, please read an article titled, “What If Bad Fat Is Actually Good For You?” By Nina Teicholz in the 2007 November issue of Men’s Health Magazine. Go to Consider this quotation from the article:

“When people replace the carbohydrates in their diet with fat – saturated or unsaturated – the number of small, dense LDL particles decreases. This leads to the highly counterintuitive notion that replacing your breakfast cereal with eggs and bacon could actually reduce your risk of heart disease.”

When I taught students they could eat eggs for breakfast in the name of “health,” many were excited, but still skeptical. Some of their parents were even more so. It’s amazing to me so many people, teenagers and adults, start their day with a breakfast cereal with a long list of ingredients including enriched grains, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup as well as many other chemicals and food dyes but they believe eggs are bad for them.

I suggest a web site, for more information on healthy eating. In addition, the book by Michael Pollan, “In Defense Of Food” is an excellent book to read. I only disagree with him on one point. He quotes the research that makes the case that saturated fat is not unhealthy. However, he still follows the collective consciousness against the health benefits of saturated fats in a few of his comments. Still a good read!

Have a great day! Eat well and live long!

Dr. Nancy Irven

Thank you Dr. Irven for contributing to my blog. Her book, Please Don't Eat The Wallpaper is geared towards high school kids. I bought it anticipating that I would read it first, then give it to my kids to read. They both enjoyed it and had a lot of questions for me after. My children are much younger than the target audience, however, it sparked a similar result. A conversation was started about what is and what is not healthy for you.

'nuff said

Doc T

Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.

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