Gains & Gut Health
We all fit somewhere on the spectrum of losing weight and building muscle. Traditionally, we have been taught that if you aren’t losing weight or building muscle at a desirable rate then “you just aren’t working hard enough.” But what if your progress has nothing to do with your training or effort and EVERYTHING to do with your gut health? We have been taught for YEARS that the key to building a muscular physique was to lift heavy weights and eat a magic combination of protein, carbs and fats. Bicep curls and chicken breasts lining every cover of fitness magazines for the last 70 years. You can bicep curl all you want, and eat an entire farm of chickens, but if you aren’t ABSORBING your nutrients then you will never make progress.
What does proper digestion look like?
Once food enters the mouth, digestion begins with chewing and saliva and doesn’t stop until the food reaches the end of your colon. Enzymes, bile salts, bacteria, and acids all contribute to the process. For muscle building, the most common area of issue is the small intestine. The small intestine has little brushes that secrete enzymes to help absorb other carbs such as maltose and sucrose. Some water-soluble B vitamins begin the digestive process here, as does protein and amino acids. This is where most of your muscle building nutrition will get absorbed.
Cool, but what goes wrong?
The number one issue that occurs in the small intestine that inhibits nutrient absorption is increased intestinal permeability. It is a condition in which gaps in your intestinal walls start to loosen. This allows larger substances, such as bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles, to pass across the intestinal walls into your bloodstream. This is thought to trigger widespread inflammation and stimulate an immune reaction (inflammation = no gains) Your body must then focus all its energy on fighting against the inflammation and is unable to healbuild your muscles. On top on the increased gut permeability, the villi (finger like structures on the walls of the intestines) begin to flatten due to a widespread increase of inflammation of the body. Therefore, these essential vitamins and minerals are discarded without being absorbed and utilized.
Yikes, am I suffering?
To a degree, most people suffer from some sort of digestive impairment. Here are some noticeable symptoms: (Symptoms are not limited to the ones listed below)
– Lack of muscle development
– Chronic soreness
– Slow repair time
– Flatulence (gassy)
– Borborygmus (gurgling stomach)
– Heart burn
– Irregular bowl movements (constipation, diarrhea)
– Clouded thinking
– Mood swings
What causes digestive impairment?
– Long term use of non – steroidal anti – inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen.
– Antibiotic use
– Poor gut bacteria
– High inflammatory diet
– Elevated Cortisol (stress)
– Lack of sleep
– Over training
– Lack of fiber
– Eating too quickly
– Alcohol consumption
– Not eating a diverse range of foods
Chinese Medicine Perspective on Gains
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, it is important to note all the organs that take part in digestion: liver, spleen, gallbladder, stomach, intestines, and the pancreas. All these organs and fluids in the body can become problematic. There are many possible reasons for issues to arise. For instance, from an emotional perspective: if your mind is consumed with stress, grief, anxiety, etc., then your energy will be consumed with producing stress hormones attempting to balance you out and keep you functioning. But again, not enough energy can be spared for other jobs like digesting and dispersing nutrients appropriately (aka muscle building). Our bodies are in a constant battle of fight or flight versus rest and digest. There was a time when our lives revolved around the fight or flight of hunting and then the rest and digest period of eating and then healing from the day’s work. We don’t live that life anymore. Everyone is overstimulated and overworked.
Acupuncture is a very useful way to settle the battle of fight/flight, rest/digest and make you more balanced. It can stimulate organs to react more appropriately to the stresses we put them through.
Additionally, to Acupuncture, nutritional changes are extremely important. Having said that, not everyone requires the same nutritional support. I know it may seem crazy but eating a fresh juicy salad may make YOU gassy and bloated but may be the perfect remedy to somebody else’s digestive distress.
So how are you supposed to know what to do? That’s where we come in as your help. In Acupuncture, it is very important to do a whole-body system review (Acugraph) because it will be able to graph and chart what is happening within the body. The beauty of this process is that someone who has been told they have irritable bowel syndrome can be diagnosed with something more specific and therefore have a more specific treatment protocol designed to fit their specific needs.
At Healing Elements, we take traditional medicine to a whole new modern-day medicine where we incorporate both needles, herbal medicine and dietary therapy to create a treatment plan specific to every patient’s needs. Acupuncture is a great way to get more specific answers to your gut problems and have the internal and emotional support needed along the way. Call 403 – 982 – 4325 for your FREE Acugraph consultation!