April 18, 2012
Introduction: In today’s Podcast, what to do when allergies affect your exercise? Also, how much do you need to eat after an endurance event, is Tri-Ripped or Triathlon Dominator better for a 70.3, a genetic test to determine your potential aerobic capacity, how to heal a bruise, controlling the side effects of prednisone, how to reduce migraines, should you use the mess out of 7-keto DHEA, and wearing minimalist shoes on a bicycle.
Brock: Hello everybody, welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. This is Brock coming to you live, well not so live I guess. It’s live while I’m doing it but not live while you’re doing it.
Ben: But you’re not dead.
Brock: I’m not dead exactly.
Ben: Brock is still with us.
Brock: I’m still with you and so is Ben obviously because you’re talking to me.
Ben: Yeah. I just got back from a little stroll down the river on my ElliptiGO actually.
Ben: So nothing like geeking out in the wee hours of the morning. It’s kind of nice because there are not as many people out there to give you really strange looks as if you are on a Segway scooter but I mean, things cool. I wanted to go out and do something, didn’t want to go for a run and I’ve written an article about this actually on the website about how close the training in terms of the specificity of the training as when you compare elliptical training to running very low impact. A lot of people think elliptical training is useless but it’s not. I mean, I cite there are multiple research studies that have shown that to be very effective for improving your running.
Brock: Did you have like lights and reflectors and all that kind of stuff on your ElliptiGO if you’re going out that early in the morning?
Ben: Yeah, I’m totally outfitted. I wrap myself in Christmas lights and I get a long extension cord from my house. No, actually I just had a t-shirt and pants and kind of, it was like freezing rains so I got a little cold thermogenesis as well so it’s nice.
Brock: Don’t need to take a cold shower if you just go outside and stand in the rain.
Ben: Exactly! So now, in one of the tail end of about a 15-hour fast right now so, I slammed a few amino acids in my system. I’ve got some Chinese adaptogenic herbs here and a little bit of water and I’m ready to rumble.
Brock: Let’s do it!
Brock: Okay, lots of stuff happening at Twitter.com/BenGreenfield. Which ones do you want to bring to the people’s attention this week?
Ben: There’s a ton of cool stuff I found this week like a Wii Fit study and we talked about Wii Fit before but it turns out, this study that they did was a comparison between the Nintendo Wii Fit Aerobics and it was the free run program which is like the default program that comes with Wii Fit and they compared that to traditional aerobic exercise in basically people who are kind of traditionally sedentary. So, it’s those super fit folks but the Wii Fit just like blew treadmill walking out of the water and so it wasn’t anything special in the treadmill that folks walk for 30 minutes at about a speed of three and a half which actually for a sedentary person is a brisk walk on the treadmill and they compared that with 30 minutes of not doing the Nintendo Wii Fit free run program on a treadmill but just like doing it kind of running in place.
Brock: In front of the TV.
Ben: Yeah and the heart rate with Wii Fit was like 20 beats higher which is significant so it wasn’t just kind of not very notably higher heart rate. It was very significant for anybody who’s been at 120 versus 140 heart rates.
Ben: So I thought that was interesting and all you moms out there who want your kids to be fit, apparently if they’ll play this, it can have a decent result.
Brock: It’s great! I remember seeing some evidence like it’s probably like a year ago where people are really disappointed in the fitness level that kids were getting but I guess it wasn’t specifically from the Wii Fit, it was just from playing games on Wii.
Ben: Exactly and this was the actual Wii Fit running game.
Ben: Another study that I tweeted that kind of got a little bit of response was the relationship between the running loads and soft tissue injuries in athletes and the basics of this study and the way that I noticed that it was reported in a lot of places that it was reported was that when you’re training for speed, you have a higher risk of injury than when you’re training with volume and everybody, it seemed, was coming out and saying “oh, this is really good information for endurance athletes”. We need to be doing more aerobic training; we need to be doing more of the Maffetone philosophy, Lydiard philosophy of higher volume long run stuff like that. It should be noted that this study was comparing ten meters of all-out sprinting to about a 2k distance. So we’re not talking about a ten-mile run to doing like two-mile intervals, we’re talking about rugby players that they tested doing very short sprints versus doing kind of longer moderate intensity efforts and what they found was that anytime there’s high velocity running that there was a higher risk of specifically lower body soft tissue injury but always be careful when you see the headlines of a study like this because you need to look at what they’re actually studying. These weren’t like long distance runners comparing a hundred miles a week versus 20 miles a week fast and finding a hundred miles a week to be superior. These are rugby players, when they found that when you’re doing ten-meter all-out sprints as part of a running program, your risk of injury goes up.
Brock: It depends on what your personal baseline is, I guess, when you see the words long distance.
Ben: Exactly, and actually in most studies, long distance is not very long for people who are like marathoners and triathletes. Long distance a lot of times, they are referring to like 1,500 meters, 2,000 meters so it’s all relative.
Ben: And then the last thing I know was I think we’ve gotten questions before in this podcast about sport legs and about this supplements that are supposed to increase the amount of lactic acid that you produce with the idea being that if you introduce lactic acid into the body prior to actually beginning something like a hard bike ride or a hard run or anything else is going to cause a bunch of lactic acid formation. If you start off by supplementing with something that contains lactate, then what happens is you can step up the activity of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase which is involved with basically breaking on lactate and transferring it into other muscles like bringing it back up to the liver to be converted into glucose and stuff like that and theoretically, kind of a cool idea on paper. This was one of the first studies that I’ve seen that really looked into whether or not this stuff is effective and so they actually gave people like a lactate dihydrate and a lactate monohydrate supplement, very similar to what you’re going to find in a lot of these supplements in the market and supplementation didn’t really do anything at all when it came to, specifically what they tested was a 20k time trial in cyclists which is a fairly high lactate acid-producing effort. They didn’t find that is setup lactate dehydrogenase in the mitochondria. They didn’t find really much of an effect at all of this stuff so just a note to self that if a supplement is promising to act by loading you with lactate, it doesn’t appear to be very efficacious.
Brock: That’s disappointing.
Brock: So, I guess that sort of points us more in the direction of something like the lactic acid buffer rather than bloating it up. Buffering it is probably a better idea.
Ben: Yup, exactly. Using something like a buffering salt and even though sometimes, you have to use them to pretty high extent or load with them for a long time prior to the event for them to be effective. Best example of something like that that I use is like Extreme Endurance but I have to take that stuff for awhile before I really notice the effect like four to six weeks so that’s it.
Brock: Alright, so there are a couple of really cool posts that happened at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I guess there was the podcast last Friday that was really cool, very interesting stuff.
Ben: Yeah. We asked the question to a surgeon engineer and physician who’s very well versed in nutrition about whether or not it’s possible to be extremely active and eat a low carb diet. if you didn’t listen to that podcast, listen in. A lot of good information in there and basically what it comes down to is that whether or not you’re eating more carbs, if you’re going to say like go to a race or maybe do a really hard cross fit workout or something like that. If you’re trying to eat kind of a lower carbohydrate, be in a high metabolic deficiency high fat-burning state as much as possible kind of the rest of the time, a lot of really good practical tips in there about how to throw down a hard or long workout and not completely hit the wall in terms of energy. Basically we cover a ton of stuff but I mean, what it comes down to for me on a practical level is for, if I qualify for Ironman Hawaii this year, during a lot of my longer workouts for that race, I’m just going to be basically shooting coconut oil or medium-chain triglyceride oil and do in about 90 calories or so of this low insulin-releasing super starch stuff before those long workouts and I’ve been experimenting with it a little bit, it works pretty well so listen in to that podcast.
Brock: Yeah, you crushed your first triathlon of the year using that sort of philosophy didn’t you, over the weekend.
Ben: Well, I did do a sprint triathlon and I won it by a lot but I wasn’t really using that for nutrition but what I did do was I didn’t carb load at all, I just continued to eat my normal high fat diet. I put a post up at BenGreenfieldFitness.com where I wrote down exactly what I ate. Even the night before went to an Italian restaurant where there’s pizza and pasta stuff like that and I had a Portobello Mushroom with some steak and yeah, went out and felt great. I don’t know whether it was that or the fact that I had a very good poo which I also talked about.
Brock: That doesn’t even qualify as a very good one. This is like extraordinary.
Ben: Yeah. I picked up one of these things called a Squatty Potty the company, Squatty Potty, sent me something to evaluate.
Brock: Why did they have to call it that?
Ben: Yeah, I know it’s not the best name but holy cow. The thing not only kind of fits underneath the toilet so it looks nice and stylish in your bathroom and it does look good but it puts you into a traditional squatting position where your rectal muscles are able to defecate much more efficiently and I swear I had a lot of backed up fecal matter that came out the day before the race and I won’t overwhelm people here on the podcast, just go read the article where I actually kind of explained the whole anorectal angle and how this thing changes up but yeah, it was a very invigorating poo.
Brock: Well anybody who’s traveled around especially in Asia will see that like most of the world or a lot of the world doesn’t use toilets like we do in North America and in the Western world like it’s usually just a hole in the floor and often like a spot where you’re supposed to put your feet on either side of the hole and it’s exactly for that reason.
Brock: It just minds you up in a much more effective manner the way we’re built probably to.
Ben: And the whole smoking come thing here but we do have very high rates of colon cancer in theU.S.and part of them might be because of the way that we go to the bathrooms, so squatty on the potty, check it out.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay, so we got a bunch of audio questions this week which is really nice and a whole bunch of written questions. We are getting such a serious backlog, please be patient. Know that we are receiving your questions and we will get to them, it may take a few weeks though but let’s get into our first audio question from Megan.
Megan: Hi Ben, my name is Megan and I’m calling with a question for your podcast. Basically something as an endurance athlete, I’ve heard multiple times but I just haven’t been able to find any substantial evidence explaining one way or another how it should alert you when you do big events such as a marathon or like I just said the 70.3 race this weekend that in the days following such an event but your body has a higher caloric burn because it’s repairing and rebuilding muscles and you’re exhausted and your body’s working to get back to its base and so what I’m wondering is, is that true or is that just one of these things that people say to make themselves so they can eat a lot after a big event and not have guilt and what kind of evidence is it and what percentage? I’m imagining that it varies obviously, they said how big of a person you are, how fit you are, how many times you’ve done that event because obviously if you’re a marathoner, multiple times your body is more efficient and the shock of doing such an event isn’t that hard on the body. So I’m just wondering if you would know of any evidence or research on that. I hope that you have some kind of an info for me. Thank you and I love the show, bye.
Ben: So I thought this was interesting because it got me thinking, I’ve done this before but it always blows me out of the water when I think about how many calories I actually burn during something like an Ironman.
Ben: Typical heart rate during something like that, I’m going around ten hours, 800 calories an hour so I’ve got 8,000 calories that I’d be burning during the event and then if you just take my personal metabolic rate is right around 3, 000 in terms of what I’ve had it tested at in a laboratory. So, you take the other 14 hours of the day that I’m not racing and there’s another kind of 2,000 calories that I’m burning just sitting around. So typical Ironman day, calorie burn is like 10,000 calories.
Ben: And consuming maybe 500 calories before the race or breakfast if I’m lucky, I’ll get 4,000 calories down the hatch during the actual race. Split up is just basically like 40 gels or whatever during the bike or the run, it just makes me sick to think about and maybe, if I really binge after the race and go an all-out margarita, pizza whatever, maybe I can get 1,500 calories down the hatch and that’s about all that’s going to fit into this stomach especially post-race. You add all that up, you’re still staring at like 4,000 to 5,000 calorie deficit for somebody like me after an Ironman triathlon and you’re looking at a few thousand for most people the next day in terms of your actual calorie deficit, the hole that you dug yourself into from a calorie standpoint. Generally, your liver and your muscles are going to be pretty empty of their carbohydrate stores, you usually dipped in quite a bit of your fat as well. If you’re already lean going into the race which a lot of folks are, going into something like an Ironman, you’ve maybe dipped in to some of your essential fat stores. So yeah, you’ve got that going on and then you also got the fact that you were damaging muscles, especially during the marathon which is that eccentric loading impact-based exercise that causes a real elevation in a lot of these markers of inflammatory damage like creatine kinase and all of these, what are called “myocellular enzymes” that have to act to repair muscle tissue. So you’ve got damage going on with skeletal muscle fibers, you’ve got the cell membranes getting damaged, you’ve got even what are called like your ion transport mechanisms which is basically kind of how your nerves communicate with your muscles to actually fire those that are getting damaged and that can potentially cause a real increase in your post-exercise metabolic rate because your body has to repair itself and even just the activity of resynthesizing all the proteins that build all these things that you’re breaking down, that’s pretty energetically expensive. You do need greater energy utilization and so it makes sense that your resting metabolic rate would go up. As far as studies on this, the only studies that I’m aware of that look into how much repairing muscle post-exercise would actually increase your resting metabolic rate was done on in weight lifting and in the case of weight lifting, it was right around, it was close to a thousand extra kilojoules for a day-long period. Translate that into calories, that’s like maybe 200 extra calories. So the calorie hole that you dig yourself into just from a lot of exercise, far exceeds the actual rise in metabolic rate from your body having to repair itself. Burning an extra 200 calories a day in terms of your resting metabolic rate is not significantly high compared to whatever the 3,000 or 4,000-calorie hole that you dug yourself into from just moving around a lot and not eating as much as you could during the race. So what this comes down to is your friends are kind of right that a marathon or Ironman, your metabolic rate is going to stay elevated a little while after but it’s not very significant. More of the significance is the fact that you’ve burnt a lot of calories. As far as what I do, typically post-Ironman, I’ll wake up the next morning and I will be fairly hungry and a big part of that is because like I mentioned, the liver and the muscle are completely empty of carbohydrate stores so I do have a fairly carbolicious breakfast. Whatever oatmeal, a stack of pancakes, waffles whatever and yeah, a lot of times there are some cheap foods thrown in there. I don’t usually do gluten-based carbohydrates but if I’m at a breakfast buffet and there’s pancakes and it’s post-Ironman, I don’t check to see if there are buckwheat or coconut flour, I eat the freaking things but I really focus for the next few days a post hard event like that on some important things, so the first thing you got to realize is not only from all that sugar that you ate but from all those free radicals that you produced and all of the metabolic byproducts of hard exercise that you produce, your body tends to be fairly acidic after an event like that and you want to try and get a lot of what are called alkalinizing foods down the hatch. So the best example of an alkalinizing food would be like a dark leafy green. Spinach is a perfect example. It’s got a ton of chlorophyll in it. Chlorophyll is a really potent alkalizer. Broccoli is another example. Another thing that’s really good actually is cucumber juice, that stuff has got a really good alkalinizing effect, happens to be great for your liver as well. Avocadoes are really good. These are just some things that really help your body heal well like dark peppers, like dark red peppers, those actually have a fairly alkalinizing effect as well so those are some of the foods, for example, that you could include. I’m really a big fan of like greens supplements like Enerprime or Capragreens or living fuel SuperGreens or any of these foods that are like blue-green algae and spirulina and kelp and chlorophyll all kind of blended together, those are super alkalinizing and especially after you really beat your body up, they can really help to stabilize your PH. So that’s one kind of angle that you want to come at healing your body from like post hard event. I’d also really look at your cortisol levels, your adrenal glands and really taking care of those post, big, hard race events or workout. Two best things I can recommend for that would be Chinese adaptogenic herbs which we’ve talked about a lot before in this show as being great for stabilizing your cortisol levels and decreasing a lot of the stress markers and then something like maca root, maca is not a Chinese herb but it’s also very good in terms of lowering cortisol levels. Example of something that has like Chinese adaptogenic herbs in it like what I’m drinking right now, this tea and chi stuff, that’s good and examples of something that has maca in it, Energy28, I actually slam a couple of those usually before an Ironman. It’s like kind of a liquid super food, it’s got a lot of chlorophyll in it that I mentioned, it’s got like the maca root. It’s great for kind of like setting your body up to repair, that’s something to try as well. I can put a link to all these stuff in the show notes for you. And then the last thing, I suppose you could consider and this should be a no-brainer in terms of repairing your skeletal muscle fibers, you’re just going to need higher protein intake. Easily digestible proteins like fish, you can do like amino acids, amino acid capsules, amino acid powders, protein powders. One important thing is that typically in addition to your muscles being beat up, a lot of times your digestive system just doesn’t function that well post-Ironman, post-marathon stuff like that. I would be amping up your intake of digestive enzymes, I’d be doing a bunch of probiotics and if you’re really having trouble digesting foods and I do find that this is an issue for me after I’ve had 40 gels during a race and also just completely having my body red lined for ten hours, hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, it seems for some reason that stuff just sits in the stomach and you have a hard time digesting it for a few days. So you could do, for example, like a betaine HCL. NOW Foods has a great one, I’ll link to it in the show notes for you but pop one, two of those before your bigger meals of the day, the day after something like a marathon or an Ironman, all that will help as well. So from a nutrition perspective, that’s what I would do. Go ahead!
Brock: The stomach problem, would that be as a result of the blood being shunted like away from the stomach during an event like that, is that why your hard-to-look acid levels would be off and so digestion would be a little funky?
Ben: I suspect it’s more autonomic nervous system related. You put your body into running from a lion, fight and flight mode for that long and it’s just kind of whimpered up in a fetal position in the corner for the next few days.
Brock: So maybe something like meditation would help a little bit too like that’s not a nutrition thing obviously.
Brock: That parasympathetic nervous system sort of back online.
Ben: Anything that you’d normally recommend for extreme stress control is going to be a good idea after putting your body through the ringer and the longer you’re going, the more serious this is going to be and depends on you too. If you’ve never run a marathon before, that’s going to be enough to put your body into that state for somebody like an Ironman triathlete, a marathon is not as big of a deal. A half Ironman or an Ironman really is a big deal so it all depends on your experience as well.
Brock: Cool! I’ve always heard, I’m actually guilty of spreading this rumor as well that after a marathon, you get 48 hours of calories don’t count and after a half marathon, it’s 24 hours of calories don’t count. I’m not actually sure where I got that from but I guess that’s not entirely true.
Ben: Yeah, it’s more kind of mental than physical. For me, its alcohol doesn’t count and that’s highly scientific.
Brock: Yes, absolutely. Alright, well let’s move on to our second question. Another audio question comes from Josh.
Josh: Hi Ben, I have a question for you about seasonal allergies I guess where I think I’ve got. For the past couple of years, in April and May, it seems like something comes out that makes my heart rate stay really well and I know this especially from whenever I do cycling, I’ll go out and I can’t seem to get it up into those third or fourth or even fifth heart rate zones even if I really try and I feel really horrible for the duration of my ride and I’m just wondering why this is. It’s probably when I run but I do also notice that throughout the day, my heart rate is pretty low. Sometimes I’ll be standing or sitting and it gets a lot lower than normal. I’ll be standing with a 40 or 50 beat per minute heart rate which is necessarily normal right now for my fitness level. So I didn’t know if there’s anything right now about this. I’m not doing any prescriptions of any sort for anything. I’m trying and squish that right now. I have vitamin C. I just don’t know what could be causing this, so thanks for the advice.
Ben: Yeah! I thought this was interesting and basically when you step back and you look at allergies which are what it sounds like especially this time of year, we’re recording this as spring is in the air and seasonal allergies are a real issue, I would suspect that this is something that allergy-related. I haven’t seen your health history, I don’t know a ton about your diet but it certainly is reasonable that something like this could be caused by an allergic reaction. What you need to understand is how the body works when you actually do have an allergic reaction so there’s kind of two main compounds that are produced, they’re called “autacoids” but basically they’re involved in the inflammatory process or the inflammatory reaction to an allergenic compound that you’ve been exposed to or whatever, pollen in the air and they affect what’s called your “vasomotor tone” or the size of your blood vessels. So one compound is histamine and we probably all heard of histamine a lot of times when you have an allergy reaction, you take an anti-histamine but histamine, basically, it modulates the tone of your blood vessels by stimulating certain receptors in your vascular walls and this can cause, in many cases, vasodilation or expansion of blood vessels. Now in some cases, you’ll get bronchoconstriction so you get constriction of your airways but you’ll get expansion of your blood vessels, that’s one of the reasons you might get red in the face for example, if you’ve gotten allergy reaction. Bradykinin is the other compound that plays a role in inflammation or in the allergy response and that also can have a similar effect, it can cause vasodilation. And so when you’re looking at making a blood vessel bigger, it’s just like kind of that garden hose analogy. When you’ve got a garden hose and it’s a really big, thick, large in diameter garden hose, typically water isn’t going to flow out of that quite as quickly as if you kind of kink to the hose or use a smaller hose and so if you got a bunch of vasodilation going on then it certainly means that your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard, your blood pressure falls and your ability to reach a very high heart rate can decrease with this large amount of vasodilation. Now of course in a trained athlete, that’s a good response. It’s one of the reasons that the resting heart rate is lower just because your blood vessels are larger, your heart is working more efficiently, your stroke volume is bigger but in an allergenic reaction, it can also cause kind of an inability to reach the heart rate that you want to get up to. So that’s what could be causing this as far as it happening during exercise. I think we do have another question later on about exercise and allergies and maybe we can get on.
Brock: We should just throw that in next may as well since we’re on the subject here.
Ben: Sure why don’t we throw in that question, we can talk a little bit more about allergies. Yeah go ahead, why don’t you throw it in.
Brock: Okay! So yeah, the question is from Christian.
Christian: My wife and I ran a half marathon today. She appears to have a significant histamine reaction causing vasodilation every time she runs significant distances. Her arms and legs turn purplish red and she feels her blood pressure drops. She dumps cold water on her arms at each aid station and that helps some. The problem is worse when it’s hot outside. Her hydration and nutrition are good, her liquid nutrition has electrolytes and she adds a salt tablet to her water. I recall your podcast interview about not eating electrolytes but adding salt seems to help her. What other thoughts do you have?
Brock: Then he actually threw in a little shadow to me so thanks Christian.
Ben: What did he say?
Brock: He said “By the way, I really enjoy Brock’s contribution to the podcast”.
Ben: Ah, you mean the fact that if Brock weren’t here, there wouldn’t be a podcast.
Brock: There’d be silence.
Ben: Yeah. I don’t produce the podcast anymore, Brock does so any increase in the quality of the podcast you can thank Brock for it. So exercise is always going to make allergies worse and a big reason for that is fairly simple, it’s blood flow. So there’s a few different ways this works. First of all, any type of allergy reaction can certainly be related to food intake and because your body is able to mount an allergenic reaction against food, this can be magnified when you go out and exercise and if you’re eating peanuts or shellfish or eggs or anything that kind of traditionally may cause a food allergy reaction, a lot of times you don’t notice the histamine response and you don’t notice the kind of anaphylaxis and shortness of breath and a lot of the uncomfortable things that can happen when it comes to something like food allergy and tell you actually start exercising and getting this stuff really picked up by the blood and getting a lot of blood kind of circulating around your system and whizzing through your organs much faster and so you get a larger exposure to these food-based allergens, so that’s one thing is that if food allergies can certainly be enhanced through physical exercise and the scientific term for something like that like not noticing that a food is bothering you until you’re out there exercising, it’s called exercise-induced anaphylaxis. There are other things that can cause exercise-induced anaphylaxis but that’s a big thing is a food allergy. So that’s something to think about certainly when it comes to you having this type of histamine response and we’ll talk about some of the things that you could do to kind of decrease this type of reaction and kind of control the histamine a little bit in a second but the big thing that I found to be super successful in a lot of the runners that I’ve worked who tend to have seasonal allergies is we just start to eliminate a lot of food allergy triggers or food components that tend to cause a little bit of an autoimmune reaction or an inflammatory response because that’s what allergies are. So if you can reduce a lot of the things that are going to cause basically the same type of response, then you’ve got just lowering that inflammation and lowering that immune response and so these things tend to not be as big of an issue when you head out to go for a run on a windy spring day. The biggest thing is gluten. I’ve found that putting a runner or somebody who’s out there exercising and getting this type of anaphylactic response or allergy response, if you cut out gluten, that’s a big one because you can really limit the amount of gluten antibodies that circulate in the system especially if people have a gluten-sensitivity and that really lowers the propensity to have issues when it comes to like a histamine reaction when you’re not exercising. The thing is though; there are a ton of other foods that are considered to be cross-reactive with gluten antibodies. The main reason that a food would cause the same type of response in your body that happens when you consume gluten would be because there are foods that have the ability to kind of mimic the shape of the gluten molecule and your immune system tends to recognize the shape of that gluten molecule or something to mount an immune response against. So some of the biggest things that have gluten cross-reactivity associated with them would be like diary, that’s a biggy. It’s like cow’s milk. If you cut out gluten and you tend to have an allergy response when you’re out running, create a lot of mucus, get a lot of histamine that type of thing, just cut out dairy and that’s a big one. Foods that traditionally would be considered gluten-free can also cause this issue. So like buckwheat, kimwa, spelts, amaranth, millet, rye, all kind of the grain substitutes that you might use if you’re trying to steer clear of gluten, you may want to consider eliminating these as well especially like in the springtime if you’re getting this type of response when you’re out exercising. Another thing to look at would be corn, corn can actually cause this issue as well. So I would consider eliminating some of those things from the diet.
Brock: Our bodies are so smart in some ways and then in other ways they’re so stupid.
Ben: Yeah, yup exactly.
Brock: It’s simply confused.
Ben: Yeah and it’s not to say that pollen and stuff floating around in the air still isn’t going to cause some asthma or some anaphylaxis or histamine response but I’ve found that that dietary perspective is the biggest one. Now as far as other things that you can do to control like hyper-reactivity of the immune system when you’re out exercising in the spring especially, I would look into acupuncture. I’ve been able to find multiple studies that have shown acupuncture to be effective in modulating that histamine response and that’s the deal where you can go find a local acupuncturist and call them up on the phone first and see if they kind of specialize if they’ve worked with runners before but that would be one thing to look into and if you want to know what to expect in an acupuncture session, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and do a search for acupuncture. I’ve kind of outlined what goes on when you walk into a room with an acupuncturist. It’s not them like driving pins into your skin with a hammer, it’s pretty light stuff. Quercetin, you’ve probably seen the advertisements of Lance Armstrong drinking the FRS energy drink that’s got the quercetin in it, that’s a good antioxidant but it can also inhibit the inflammatory process caused by what are called “neutrophils” which are active as part of the immune response with allergies and quercetin is actually really good preventing some of this inflammation. So you could use a quercetin supplement, red apples are really high in quercetin. Red onions are too, those would be things to look into in terms of quercetin concentration and it’s actually highest of all foods in the skin and the outer ring of onions and in apples. So you don’t have to eat a bunch of onion rings but I mean in a springy meal, you have to step up your intake of onions and apples because both of those are a chalk full of quercetin so that’d be one thing to look into. Fish oil, has a really positive effect in terms of helping you to produce arachidonic acid and arachidonic acid is responsible for kind of modulating that prostaglandin response that can cause inflammation and aggravate allergies. So fish oil doesn’t exactly, I’ve may have explained that kind of incorrectly, it doesn’t like increase your levels of arachidonic acid but it helps you to metabolize it faster, helps you to metabolize arachidonic faster so that’d be another thing to think about taking is like a fish oil. So acupuncture, fish oil, quercetin, as far as those are the things to look into, sterols which is basically just something you get from plants, those can be effective at alleviating some of the allergic stuff. I would look into just stepping up your plant intake. Raw nuts, raw seeds stuff like that, that’s really high in plant sterols so I’d look into that as well.
Brock: And that’s specifically the raw ones like you don’t want to get roasted.
Ben: Yeah, you’re going to get inactivation of a lot of the sterols with roasting and heating. So those are some of the things that I would look into and then just stay away from those common foods that are going to cause an allergenic response. I was even able to find a study in a journal of head and neck surgery that reported that foods that are commonly involved in allergic rhinitis are foods that contain like additives and artificial colors and that would include like vanillin MSG, benzoates, benzaldehyde and a lot of the common additives you’re going to find in packaged foods or processed foods, so I would steer clear of those too whether or not they contain gluten or whatever. I would just be eating like recognizable real raw foods from a proto section more than I would be eating out of packages and boxes and stuff like that.
Brock: It’s always a good idea anyway.
Ben: Yeah it’s always a good idea but I mean, yeah basically. Don’t go out and eat at a Chinese restaurant the day before you’re going to go for a run especially if you’re going to be consuming like MSG. Even if you look at like Gatorade, it’s got FD&C yellow in it and that’s considered to be one of those things that there’s an additive or artificial color so you got to be kind of careful but yeah. So hopefully I haven’t kicked that horse to death too much but that’s what I would do when it comes to allergies and running.
Brock: Yeah, that’s great and like you said before we started this whole allergy talk, this is the perfect time of the year to get this kind of information out there so hopefully people don’t suffer as much through the next couple of months of pollen and all that stuff floating around.
Ben: That’s right! Basically what it comes down to is, don’t go running with like a loaf of bread tucked under your arm.
Brock: Or tucked in your cheek.
Ben: That’s right.
Brock: Okay, so we’ll go back to the audio questions again and this one comes from Brian.
Brian: Hey Ben, my name is Brian Kaye. I’m calling from Cuba, Florida and I love all your stuff and I have done, I’m 49 years old and I have done a sprint, an Olympic, actually two sprints in Olympic distance that I’ve tried and going over the edge and I’m going to do a half Ironman in January coming up down here in West, the Combo Island Tri and to train for that, I was looking at your two programs and I was wondering which one would you recommend either the Tri-Ripped or the Triathlon Domination Program. So I want to order one of them but I’m not sure which one would be applicable for me, I do need some direction in the training side of things and I think that that Domination Triathlon would probably be the better one but I’d like your feedback and opinion. I do have my degree in holistic nutrition as well so the nutrition side of things really gel with you on that so it’s more getting myself into shape. I live out 218 pounds or so, I’m six foot three and I really like to get down to about 195 or so or 190 so between your training and your other insight, that’d be great, I appreciate it. So I hope to hear from you soon Ben, thanks. Hope you have a great day.
Ben: So this will be pretty quick. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve written two really big triathlon training programs that are super comprehensive, Tri-Ripped and Triathlon Dominator. So I’m just going to keep this really quick because I don’t want to turn this into a commercial. If you’re doing a half Ironman or an Ironman triathlon, I would tend to go with something like Triathlon Dominator at TriathlonDominator.com. If you’re doing a sprint or an Olympic-distance triathlon, then Tri-Ripped over at Tri-Ripped.com is going to be better for you and you can use Tri-Ripped for like a half Ironman or an Ironman but the person who would want to use Tri-Ripped for like a half Ironman or an Ironman would be somebody who wants to also get a really nice, muscular body and cares about their aesthetics as much as they do their performance and that’s kind of the difference between that and Triathlon Dominator as I’ve kind of brought a lot of body-building concepts and stuff like that into Tri-Ripped. So that’s the difference between the two, that’s a really short 30-second answer but hopefully that helps. Short distance triathlon, I’d definitely go with something like Tri-Ripped. Half Ironman, Ironman, go with something like Triathlon Dominator unless like muscle and six pack and stuff like that is important to you.
Brock: Excellent! This next question comes from somebody that I believe his name is Hunt.
Hunt: Hi Ben, Hunt here. Hope you’re doing well, thanks for the show. I have a question for the show. I watched the movie “The Truth About Exercise” and it talked a lot about the high intensity interval training that you’ve been a proponent of and which I’ve been following and I’ve talked with these civil government too but I have a question, they have been talking about a genetic test to verify if people could increase their aerobic capacity. They did an aerobic test to these gentlemen and then put them through a space after a month, found out that the genetic test actually predicted that the gentlemen would have no increase whatsoever in his aerobic capacity. Like they could have also said it would’ve been a 15% dialogue or something like that but I’m trying to find out what the name of the genetic test is and see if it’s available. I’m wondering if you have any information that you could provide about that. Thanks! Love the show and talk to you later.
Ben: Yeah, I couldn’t tell what his name was either but I think he may have contacted me on Twitter about the documentary “The Truth About Exercise”. I watched a little bit of it and it’s interesting. There is a genetic test in there where they report on this genetic test that’s supposed to be able to guess the potential of your aerobic capacity. The test, as far as I know, is not mainstream but here’s what I do know. Basically, what scientists have been able to identify are 11 different gene variants that are important in whether or not you’re able to maximize your aerobic capacity and there was a study in a journal of applied physiology that came out and talked about this research and the title of the study was this, “Using Molecular Classification To Predict Gains in Maximal Aerobic Capacity Following Endurance Exercise Training in Humans”. Typical genetic tests, they were just identifying RNA Predictor Genes in folks and they found that one in five individuals were unable to increase their VO2 max or their maximal oxygen capacity in response to aerobic exercise training and as far as the actual genetic tests that they used, I’m not really sure what they were. However, the person who oversaw the study, his name was Professor James Timmons and I’m not going to give his e-mail address out on the podcast but I can tell you right now, you could go Google Professor James Timmons and his e-mail address will come up over at the University of Birmingham. So you probably could shoot him an e-mail and just be like “hey, where could I go, what could I do to get this type of genetic test done?” and he’d probably be able to steer you in the right direction. That’s what I’d do but yeah, it turns out that about 20% of folks may not be able to significantly increase their VO2 max. Is that a big deal? In my opinion, not really because unless you’re trying to be a professional or an elite athlete competing at a very high level, the value that is more important than your VO2 max is what’s called your lactate threshold which is the point at which your body, it runs out of its capacity to buffer lactic acid. The muscles start to burn and you just start to slow down, that’s the point where your brain starts sending a message to your muscles based off of just the amount of pain that occurs that you need to kind of throw in the towel and that’s an extremely trainable number. I’ve worked with literally, gosh I’ve probably worked with over a thousand athletes by now and I’ve never run in to anybody who wasn’t able to increase their tolerance for buffering lactic acid and when I’m training an athlete, I’m going after that number especially an endurance athlete. I’m going after that number far more hardcore that I am going after VO2 max because it’s fairly seldom during something like a triathlon or marathon and those of the type of athletes that I work with quite a bit, fairly seldom that you’re ever up at your VO2 max during an event like that and your ability to buffer lactic acid is far more important than how the maximum amount of oxygen that you can breath in and out because you’re very seldomly reaching that point where you’re at a state of maximum oxygen utilization or at a point where oxygen is a limiting factor.
Brock: Cool! That’s slightly disheartening I guess in some ways if you’re really interested in that kind of data but at least it’s good news for the rest of us.
Ben: Yup, and as far as this type of genetic testing, I wouldn’t necessarily be going out and rushing to test yourself or test your kids and find out if you’re going to be able to predict VO2 max just because there’s so many other things that are important in terms of your health and your athletic performance. I think VO2 max is blown out of proportion a lot of the time.
Brock: There’s a lot of the genetic tests that really just sort of opened a whole can of worms that maybe cause your life more stress than if you didn’t know.
Ben: Yeah, it’s kind of that whole “do you really want to know when you’re going to die” question.
Brock: Yeah! Okay, we’ve got one more audio question and it comes from Jerry.
Jerry: Hi Ben, my name is Jerry and my question is this. A little background first, last night I was at a rock climbing gym. I dropped to the mat from a height of about six feet. A couple of minutes later I noticed I had some pain in the arch of my left foot. The pain was bad enough to be called and then take off my shoe and look at my foot and I could feel there seemed like a little knot or something in that area where the pain was and uncharacteristically for me, I’ve decided to bag it for the evening. The pain persisted and today, I have some discoloration there. The size of it is about the size of a quarter and my wife who’s an RN said “oh, you got hematoma”. If there was anything that I could do that you know well because I know you’re not an MD but anything I could do to accelerate the healing of the tissue. I’ve been icing and doing that four times a day. I also have at home a small handheld ultrasound unit and an e-stim unit but little research up on this today seems to leave me to believe that both of those could be used to speed wound healing. Anyway, if there’s any advice you could give me on that it would be greatly appreciated and I love the show, long time listener. Appreciate it and keep up the good work. Thanks, bye.
Ben: That sounds painful. Ice, ultrasound, e-stim, all that stuff , it might help bruising a little bit in terms of increasing vascular flow but bruising is when you have damage to all of these little capillaries in the tissues under your skin and things like ultrasound and electro-stimulation, those are kind of more designed to increase blood flow on a deeper muscle tissue level for something like a sprain or strain or skeletal muscle tissue injury. For bruises, typically coming after things from like a topical approach is a little bit more efficacious. So for example, the easiest thing would be like arnica. I always keep arnica underneath the bathroom counter and if I bruise myself, that’s the first thing that’s going on there. You can find a ton of arnica extract in a ton of stuff, traumeel for example, is one of the most popular things I can think of that has arnica extract in it where you can just like literally get like an arnica tincture at the health food store and use something like that. So arnica is a really great way, it’s been used for a long time as a remedy for bruises just because it has really good pain-relieving and topical anti-inflammatory properties. The other thing that works really well would be like a poultice. I don’t know if, have you ever made a poultice before Brock?
Brock: No, I’m dying to know what that is.
Ben: Yeah. Basically like you get an old t-shirt, it works really well like cotton, it works really well for a poultice and then you get something that has a really good anti-inflammatory properties based off of like herbal medicine. Top two things would be, one is a little bit harder to find called Comfrey, it’s spelled C-O-M-F-R-E-Y, you can find it at some grocery stores, you can grow it pretty easily but like Comfrey which basically almost looks like, kind of looks like a larger version of like a spinach or an arugula or cabbage, cabbage is also really good and obviously easier to find. Both of those in a poultice have good anti-inflammatory bruise-healing effect. So what you do is you chop off a bunch of it and then you just put it in a blender, like a Vita-Mix or whatever and you blend it with water. So you want to get it to the texture works, kind of like a thick soup so not like super watery but like a thick soup. You pour that into a bowl and then just using your hands, add flour until it gets kind of like a dowey type of mixture like again, not super thick but more like, almost like a waffle mix type of texture.
Brock: Like a pudding?
Ben: Yeah, kind of like that. So you basically got like this green pudding. Then what you do is you spread your t-shirt or whatever you’re going to use as a poultice out on the counter and you take this stuff that you got on the bowl and you just spoon it or handful it on to the cotton and then you wrap that up, so you got basically like into a rectangle essentially. And then what you do is you can put that into a zip-lock bag and throw it in the freezer and you’ve got this cold poultice and you can also heat it up, you can use it at room temperature whatever but you just wrap that around an area that’s got a bruise and poultices are really good in healing bruises. You can leave them on there overnight or during the day, super good like traditional kind of like alternative medicine technique for bruises and super easy to do like cabbage, it’s easy to get your hands on. Throw it in the blender, put some water, throw some flour in there, stir it up in a bowl, put it on a t-shirt. Wrap it up in a t-shirt in like a rectangular shape. Freeze the t-shirt. Once it’s frozen, throw it on the bruise, bodda boom, bodda bing you’re good to go.
Brock: So eventually does it start to melt and sort of sip through the cotton, is that the whole?
Ben: Yeah, you get a little bit of that. still, even when it’s cold, you’re going to get some of those healing properties as well. You can put a poultice like in a microwave or heat it up also and speed up the transfer of the healing, basically they’re like bioflavonoids and stuff that are passing through your skin and helping to heal up the capillaries but that’s how you use that stuff.
Brock: Cool! So Jerry, can I come over and borrow your ultrasound machine someday?
Ben: Yeah! I wish I had one of things around. The other thing though that you can get because ultrasound machines are tough to get your hands on just because I think they’re considered like a grade two medical device or whatever, they’re really easy to give you deep burns would be like infrared, you can get cold lasers. You can find those in Amazon and they have a similar effect as an ultrasound, not quite as potent but also not quite as dangerous unless you’re shun about your eyes or something like that.
Brock: But you can’t take a peek at your unborn baby with a laser.
Ben: That’s true and I do have unborn babies hanging around a lot so it’s a good point.
Brock: Okay, let’s move on to our next question. It comes from Tommy.
Tommy: My wife is a runner and suffers from ulcerative colitis. She has a very clean diet, no grains, no dairy or legumes. Her recent flair up sent her to the doctor and they put her on prednisone. 30mg two weeks, 20mg two weeks, 10mg 2 weeks and within 24 hours of her first dose, her symptoms were much improved. What side effects can she expect and will it affect her running? Is it possible to offset the prednisone side effect with diet and supplementation and what can she expect as the dosage decreases?
Ben: Yeah, so basically with the colitis, the ulcerative colitis, that’s basically like an inflammation in your bowels. Sometimes it’s because of like a really long term like irritable bowel syndrome, it’s very similar to like Crohn’s disease which is another version of inflammatory bowel disease and because prednisone can act as a potent anti-inflammatory and a little bit of an immunosuppressant. It’s pretty common for ulcerative colitis to use something like a prednisone treatment and it is effective at shutting it down. Prednisone has side effects though. It’s called a “glucocorticoid drug” and one of the reasons for that is because it essentially like mimics cortisol which basically has a good anti-inflammatory effect. It’s the same reason you would get like a cortisol injection into an inflamed, say like a knee that you’re having a really hard time healing up and it kind of puts anti-inflammatory effect into hyper drive but the problem is that you produce cortisol naturally and when you’re using a glucocorticoid medication, that begins to inhibit the ability of your body to make its own cortisols. Like your adrenal glands, basically a big part of the way that your body works like on a circadian basis and awareness basis and energy basis is you turn out strategically timed levels of cortisol throughout the day and as long as that’s at a physiologically normal level, cortisol is not a problem although low cortisol can be a big issue and I’ll talk about why in a second but basically glucocorticoids inhibit a lot of the stimulating compounds that are released from your hypothalamus, specifically something called “corticotropin-releasing hormone”. They can also decrease the production of what are called “corticotrophs” in your pituitary gland and all of this can affect the amount of cortisol that you’re able to produce and you may have heard before of like Addison’s disease which is like adrenal exhaustion or adrenal insufficiency and basically that’s when you have really low cortisol levels because you’ve essentially like either shutdown your ability to produce cortisol levels through the use of something like prednisone which takes over or you’ve done something like chronic hard training or chronic hard stress on your body for so long that your adrenal glands, they’re exhausted. You just don’t turn out cortisol anymore and so you’ve got low cortisol but in either case, once you’ve got low cortisol, what happens is you get low blood pressure. So like high cortisol is one of the reasons that people can’t lose weight basically what happens is you get sodium retention and fluid retention when you’re under like acute levels of stress but eventually long term, that goes away and you get low blood pressure and kind of a loss of fluid and that’s what happens with low cortisol levels when you’re just completely putts out. You can basically get a lot of long term kind of medical conditions setting in with chronic low cortisol levels but the main thing is like muscle weakness, weight loss, nausea, headaches, lightheadedness, fatigue like you think of something like chronic fatigue syndrome and that’s really what you’re going to experience with something like adrenal insufficiency and you take prednisone and you quit it, called “turkey”, and this is what happens, this low cortisol. So essentially, like we’ve talked before about what to do when your cortisol levels are too high because you’re overtraining and that’s kind of the acute response but chronic long term overtraining, you get this drop in cortisol. Same thing happens when you’re taking something like prednisone and then you’ve got kind of the opposite effect and all of a sudden you’re dealing with low cortisol. So one of the things that you can look into is basically, in addition to coming off the prednisone really gradually which is going to help a lot with these side effects and I’m not a doctor, please don’t consider this medical advice, this is just what I would do if I were on something like prednisone, is when you’re coming off and you’re kind of starting to micro-dose prednisone so that you’ll get a gradual decrease of those effects is think about ways that you can naturally increase your body’s production of cortisol. Well, one of the biggest times of day when your body releases this huge surge of cortisol to increase your awareness is when you wake up in the morning and not only is your body’s internal clock kind of hard-wired to produce more cortisol at that point but your external environmental cues like light hitting your eyes is also a direct stimulator of increasing cortisol. So try and get sunlight exposure and if you’re in a northern climate where there’s not a lot of sunshine right now, you may even want to consider using one of these kind of like wake you up lights that kind of simulates sunlight and you get exposed to that like chronic frequent light exposure especially early in the day as much sunlight as you can get. Vitamin D and like really getting a lot of vitamin D into your system is going to amplify that response even more, so like a high dose of vitamin D3 with like a morning sun exposure, morning light exposure, that’s something that I would really focus on doing as you’re coming off prednisone to increase your cortisol levels. There are certain herbs that are traditionally kind of known to increase cortisol output a little bit. I found one study that was done last year in the journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism that actually found elevated levels of cortisol produced by using licorice because licorice has this glycyrrhetinic acid in it and that can increase your cortisol levels so I wouldn’t go out and like eat a bunch of licorice especially if you have ulcerative colitis.
Brock: And you’re not talking about Twizzlers here?
Ben: No, just like a real licorice. The nice thing is that licorice also can help increase the mucous production in your stomach. I always recommend folks to take a licorice extract if they’re forced to use something like an ibuprofen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug because it could decrease the amount of damage, something like that can do to your stomach but it also helps you eat turn out cortisol, specifically the glycyrrhetinic acid and licorice blocks an enzyme that converts cortisol to it’s less active form. So using like a licorice extract in this case, the people in this study were taking 500mg per day of licorice extract which you have to eat a lot of licorice to get and so I would use the pill form. Ginseng, ginseng can act on the adrenal glands in your stress pathways particularly your pituitary gland and there are some studies in animals that have shown that it can increase cortisol production in a naturally good way. So ginseng can also increase the brain sensitivity to cortisol, so that may modulate some of like the fatigue depressive type of effect you get with something like prednisone withdrawal. So using something like ginseng may also help. Ashwagandha, I talked about Chinese herbal medicine a little bit earlier and using adaptogenic Chinese herbs, well ashwagandha as well as rhodiola, both traditional Chinese adaptogenic herbs, are very good at stabilizing your adrenals and the weird thing is that they appear both to be capable of either raising or lowering your cortisol levels depending on which you need. So essentially we’re talking about them improving the sensitivity of your adrenal glands, so a good Chinese adaptogenic herb complex could be really useful as well in this case. Those are the main things that I’d recommend in terms of like the drop in cortisone and the prednisone withdrawal but I did want to make sure and mention that when it comes to something like ulcerative colitis, everything mentioned so far is basically like a band aid over the initial problem of like inflammatory bowel disease or ulcers or ulcerative colitis or anything else like that so I’d certainly recommend dietary modifications and supplements to heal your gut and maybe you’ve looked into this before but for example, I’ve talked about the GAPS Diet before which is a specific type of diet and there is a book called “The GAPS Diet Book”. I will put a link to it in the show notes for you but basically the GAPS Diet eliminates certain carbohydrates from the diet and introduces a lot of really good gut-healing foods into the diet. So you do a lot of like kefir and fermented vegetables to help restore proper stomach acid production. You do a lot of animal fats and things like gee and coconut oil and butter and you use those to help and kind of heal the gut. You do a lot of like probiotics to help to restore healthy gut flora balance and there’s a whole list of recommended foods that you kind of include as part of your diet while at the same time you eliminate a lot of the fructose-containing foods, cheeses, grains, chocolates, yogurts, stuff like that, specific foods that may be digestive irritants and then you combine that not only with probiotics but other things that are known to help heal the gut and shutdown inflammation like essential fatty acids and fish oil like vitamin A. Like digestive enzymes especially like a good pancreatic enzyme complex and then just like general detoxification, kind of keeping your house chemical-free and making sure you stay away from like new carpet and furniture and paint and stuff like that. And all of this has been shown to help quite a bit with stuff like ulcerative colitis and GAPS Diet. So I look into the GAPS Diet, the other thing I’d look into in terms of something that may actually help is methionine and that’s got good research behind it for helping to heal patients who have gastrointestinal ulceration. I talked about it already, I’ll mention again but cabbage, cabbage juice is actually a really high source of this methionine extract. So, it was actually discovered a long time ago like back in the 40’s, they found that it significantly increased the rate of healing in people who had ulcers like cabbage juice, so something to look into as well. So yeah just remember, you never want to ignore the actual underlying cause of something like ulcerative colitis in a case like this. Last thing I want to mention just because I’ve noticed it as an up and coming alternative treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and we talked about poop already on the show so we might as well dig ourselves into this hole even deeper but fecal transplants, fecal animas getting actual like basically the bacteria removed from your colon and like kind of pushing the reboot button by introducing new bacterial flora into your colon through an actual fecal transplant has been shown to be quite helpful when it comes to like this irritable bowel or inflammatory bowel. So a poop transplant, as a matter of fact, may be something that can be efficacious for something like this.
Brock: Very cool.
Ben: I’ve got lots of poop hanging around now with the Squatty Potty thing, just give me a call and I’ll hook you up.
Brock: Don’t get in to that business, selling poop at the back of your van and then dark alleys.
Ben: These times are hard.
Brock: Things are tough at theGreenfieldresidence. Alright, next question comes from Adam and actually, this is our third question that begins with “my wife”. Everybody’s got questions about their wife today.
Adam: My wife suffers from migraines at least once every two months, usually once a month, to the point where she’s bed-ridden normally for a few hours until she throws up and the pain subsides within an hour. The doctors reckon it could be her pill but I wanted your take on it. She eats a standard typical high cho mod pro low fat, I hope you know what those things are.
Brock: I hope you know what those things are.
Ben: I think high carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat.
Brock: Ah, nice.
Adam: She enjoys the odd egg but that’s her approach to diet. Has no known illnesses, is a fitness instructor and healthy. Have you heard of this before? Are there any known issues or substances or food groups that could induce this reaction?
Ben: Well since the pill was mentioned, we can start it there. There are certainly…
Brock: Are you assuming that’s birth control pill?
Ben: Yeah. I mean when I heard the pill mentioned in that context, I always assume it’s just birth control pill.
Ben: Basically a lot of women get migraines more often around their menstrual periods and my wife has had issues with this as well and what I’ve been able to find, part of this could be estrogen withdrawal as far as that being a factor in migraines. I did find a study where researchers gave estrogen injections to post-menopausal women who are prone to getting migraines and none of the women who were given the injections experienced a headache during that treatment but as soon as estrogen levels dropped, the migraine headaches kind of came back. So the reason for that could be that estrogen actually influences pain pathways and influences the amount of neurochemicals that you produce like serotonin and norepinephrine and opiates and things that traditionally play a role in pain sensitivity and basically estrogen withdrawal may affect the production of these types of neurochemicals. Estrogen may also have an effect of blood vessels. It can stimulate the release of nitric oxide that expands estrogen walls and when estrogen declines, the blood vessels can contract and expand and that can lead to like this throbbing sensation that a lot of migraine sufferers described that they actually feel. I’ve personally never had a migraine in my life so I’m just going off of how my wife has described that it feels when she gets a migraine. Estrogen withdrawal can actually make the nerves in your face or your head to be hypersensitive as well. The way that this can happen is that estrogen might play a role in suppressing pain sensation in the trigeminal nerve which is a sensory nerve that supplies the face and when estrogen levels fall, the neuronal activity in this trigeminal nerve may go up, so sensitivity to pain could increase especially in the head and neck area and when you combine that with like expansion and contraction of blood vessels in the scalp, that can cause potentially like some kind of a migraine attack. So, considering that the pill can definitely influence estrogen and may actually cause some type of estrogen withdrawal, it certainly plausible that it could be an issue but the thing is and I thought about this with my wife before because she’s had migraines on and off and we kind of looked at different things, food triggers stuff like that. It seems to be that a big part of this is that the body shouldn’t be hypersensitive to something like a fluctuation in estrogen unless there’s some type of an over-reactive response occurring within the actual autonomic nervous system. So, basically it’s a hyper-reactive response against a chemical chain that’s occurring within the body and what we’re doing now with my wife is kind of testing her PH to see how her PH changes throughout the month, throughout her period as well as in response to the foods that she’s eating and rather than going into a very long explanation of why we’re starting to test PH, as a matter of fact about two hours from now, I’m going to be interviewing a gentleman who specializes in kind of how PH affects your autonomic nervous system function and basically we’re kind of using this as detective work to figure out whether an alkaline or an acid-based diet or stress that influences the alkaline or acid-based status of the body can affect migraines but what it comes down is that yes, certainly the pill can be a play here and it may amplify the estrogen withdrawal effects so that’s one thing to think about but there are other potentials for a migraine trigger. For example, there is an amino acid called “Tyrosine” and you’re going to find a derivative of tyrosine called “Tyramines” in some foods and some drugs and people who have migraines may not be able to properly kind of metabolize the tyrosine amino acid and this could lead to excessive tyramines in their blood and that could cause migraines. So reducing foods that contain tyramines could be helpful in a case like this and interestingly, foods that are higher in tyramines are fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir, alcohol of course, as well cheeses, stuff like that so it’s kind of a catch22 because a lot of fermented foods, I’ve just gotten talking about, they can be really good for you but if you get migraines, you may want to try eliminating these for a little while and see if your migraines go away. In my wife’s case, they didn’t and so it wasn’t an inability to properly metabolize tyramine in her case but that’s certainly something to think about if your wife is eating fermented foods. It sounds like if she’s eating a traditional high carb, moderate protein, low fat diet, she’s probably not doing a lot of fermented foods but alcohol is usually the biggest one like if you drink a bunch of wine then at some point over the next few days, you get a migraine that’s certainly a clue. Another thing that can cause in terms of like a food that could cause a migraine would be arginine or food that contains arginine because arginine is also kind of in the same way that estrogen acts on your blood vessels, arginine is a vasodilator. So like I mentioned, migraine might be caused by contraction and expansion of a blood vessel wall and any potent vasodilator could actually cause this to happen and the biggest arginine-containing foods would be something like nuts and another thing that’s really high in arginine is chocolate. So you could try like an elimination diet where you eliminate chocolate and you eliminate nuts and also see what happens if you keep getting migraines. In most cases because a lot of this stuff can interplay with a woman’s period, when I say eliminate certain foods, probably closer to 30 days is a good idea so that you’re kind of covering the length of time of the menstrual cycle but if you’re going to eliminate foods, those are the ones I would look into eliminating like fermented foods. Do one month where you’re eliminating fermented foods and then try another month eliminating nuts and chocolate and then try another month where you’re going off the pill. That might help you and in over three months, identify what’s causing migraines.
Brock: So that sounds like really just choosing the lesser of two evils. I mean going without chocolate and nuts and alcohol versus getting migraine headaches. I don’t envy you.
Ben: Yeah, it’s a tough choice. Booze and chocolate in your head hurt every once in a while so yeah.
Brock: Well, good luck with that Adam and I guess your wife. Okay this next question comes from Dylan and he wrote this question in a very particular style. He seems to have a really good way with words but being an uptight white guy fromCanada, I’m not going to do a justice but I’ll do my best. I know some guys, sorry?
Ben: I just said oh boy.
Dylan: I know some guys at my gym were talking this 7-Keto DHEA stuff up. Is it a scam? My number one goal is fat loss. If it can indeed increase my thyroid T3, I’ll buy the mess out of it.
Ben: Oh, oh yeah.
Brock: Is that right? I’ll buy the mess out of it! Is that better?
Ben: You know, that’s not actually a term that I’ve ever heard before but I’m going to add it to my vernacular right now.
Ben: So I’m going to answer the mess out of this question. DHEA has been around since like the late 1980’s when there was a study that came out and it was basically just done on like five guys that showed a huge decrease in body fat with DHEA supplementation. It wasn’t 7-Keto DHEA which is actually a substance that’s produced during the metabolism of DHEA but essentially, we’re talking about kind of the same idea. Since that time, there have been other studies that have been done, usually with very small number of individuals that have found body fat mass reduction with DHEA supplementation in people who are already fit and lean, okay. It doesn’t appear to work in overweight subjects or people who have large amount of fat deposits. The main reason for this is when you have a lot of adipose tissue, basically affects the way that you metabolize androgens and that’s what DHEA is. It’s basically a steroid hormone and we naturally produce it by our adrenal glands and our gonads in our brain and it’s a very abundant, circulating steroid. We’ve already got a bunch of it turning around but supplementation appears to potentially decrease body fat in already healthy men specifically. So the problem is that DHEA can really easily get converted into estrogens and so this is certainly a concern not only when it comes to like if a women were to try to supplement with DHEA in terms of potentially increasing risk of breast cancer but in guys, things like man boobs and a lot of other things that we worry about when it comes to supplementation with steroid hormones or hormonal precursors. Another thing to think about is that it is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency which means that if you’re one of the triathletes or runners or somebody who’s competing and listening into this show in a sport where you could get a pee test after you cross the finish line, you’re going to want to stay away from this stuff anyways. 7-Keto DHEA has very little research behind it compared to DHEA. It may not be converted into steroid hormones possibly, that’s why it’s starting to become a more popular supplement because it possibly might not affect the body’s hormone levels in the same way that just like taking straight up DHEA would but there’s very little research about 7-Keto DHEA and its impact on human health and at this point, I am not recommending it for those reasons and for anybody who is not competing or doesn’t have that therapeutic use exemption for using something like hormones, if you’re going to use something like DHEA supplementation, I would highly recommend that you do it under the care of a physician who is well-versed and natural hormone replacement therapy so that you can do frequent testing, monitor your levels and insure that you’re not getting a lot of like estrogen conversion, stuff like that.
Brock: So you’d say don’t buy out the mess out of it then?
Ben: I would not buy the mess out of DHEA or 7-Keto DHEA, no.
Brock: Fair enough. Alright, our last question comes from Phil.
Phil: I am way into minimalist running shoes and use them all the time I am at the gym for weight training, treadmill, elliptical, rowing. I use the Merrell Trail Glove which looks like a normal shoe, it has no separate toe compartments. During the week, I try to mix up the cardio day-to-day. There are spinning bikes at the gym with toe clips and I’d like to add them to my cardio repertoire. Given my time constraints, I could not switch to my stiff cycling shoes so my question is what is your thoughts on cycling, 100 rpm hard intervals in minimalist running shoes? I’ve tried the shoes without any problems but I wonder if you knew anything about showing that this to be contraindicated.
Ben: No. There’s not really any studies that looked at use of minimalist shoes. if you’re cycling for performance, the reason that good cycling shoes have a carbon sole is because you get a lot better power transfer and that’s just simple physics. Anytime you have a flexible surface, it’s going to distribute the load a little less efficiently than something like a real hard carbon cycling sole. So if you’re doing this for competition, you’re going to get better effects from throwing on some good cycling shoes and riding a bike that way. If you’re at the gym throwing down some intervals or doing some calorie burning and hopping on to the bike with your Merrells or your trail running shoes on, not a big deal at all. You may get a little bit more kind of plantar flexion like cafulization, possible that your feet may get kind of sore. I’ve personally written, specifically I did a half Ironman training session a few weeks ago. I was at a hotel. I had was a bike and my vibrams and I just rode for two hours on a bike and my vibrams doing intervals and stuff and works just fine, so not a big deal at all unless you’re like a competitive cyclist wanting really good power transfer.
Brock: Yeah! I’ve ridden my bike. I commute to work everyday and I wear my vibrams and the only thing I’ve noticed is sometimes the pads in my feet will get a little bit sore if I’m riding a long time in my, like on regular pedals, but that’s mostly because it’s just a soft sole and my pedals are actually quite pointy.
Ben: Yeah, but this actually reminds me. My wife did that same sprint triathlon that I did and she got like a mile in and her shoes broke. She did like the entire run in her socks.
Brock: Oh wow!
Ben: I thought was pretty badass but yeah, her feet were a little sore but it wasn’t too bad because she’s been doing a bunch of her running in vibrams and she felt like that really helped prepare her for the shoe breaking event.
Brock: Well awesome! That basically finishes up with our questions for this week.
Ben: Awesome! Well yeah, if you want to access any of the recommendations I’ve made during this episode, the GAPS Diet book, some of those supplements I recommended to Megan about kind of post-Ironman, sorting the body out that type of stuff, go to the show notes for this episode, episode number 191. See? I actually knew the number, I remembered.
Brock: You knew which number yeah.
Ben: Over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com and check that out. While you’re there, if you want to leave a small donation, we always appreciate that immensely. It really helps the show out and of course, you can also leave a ranking over in iTunes. So until this Friday when I’m either going to be releasing that interview about the PH and alkalinity of the body or I’m going to be releasing an interview on a different surprise topic, stay tuned to BenGreenfieldFitness.com and we’ll be in touch.
For personal nutrition, fitness or triathlon consulting, supplements, books or DVD’s from Ben Greenfield, please visit Pacific Elite Fitness at http://www.pacificfit.net
In this Apr 18, 2012 free audio podcast: What To Do When Allergies Affect Your Exercise. Also: how much do you need to eat after an endurance event, is Tri-Ripped or Triathlon Dominator better for a 70.3, a genetic test to determine your potential aerobic capacity, how to heal a bruise, controlling the side effects of prednisone, how to reduce migraines, should you use the mess out of 7-Keto DHEA, and wearing minimalist shoes on a bike.
Do you have a future podcast question for Ben? click Ask a Podcast Question at the bottom of this page, Skype to “pacificfit” or scroll down on this post to access the free “Ask Ben” form…
Remember, if you have any trouble listening, downloading, or transferring to your mp3 player just e-mail [email protected]. Also, please don't forget to leave the podcast a ranking in iTunes – it only takes 2 minutes of your time and helps grow our healthy community!
- Wii Fit blows treadmill walking out of the water.
- Interesting that speed appears to put runners at higher risk of injury than volume.
- Supplements like “Sport Legs” & others that preload you with lactate appear NOT to be effective.
A full 30 week workout – Ben's book, The Ultimate Weight Training Guide For Triathletes is now available on TrainingPeaks.
Ben Greenfield is presenting the “Become Superhuman” workshop – May 11 & 12, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, in Dubai.
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Thailand Adventure – Join Ben in Thailand this winter for the triathlon adventure of a lifetime at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and the Asia Pacific 70.3 Triathlon! Get all the details at www.pacificfit.net
As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.
Audio Question from Megan:
When you do a big event like a marathon or Ironman in the days after the event is it true that you have a bigger caloric need. If so, what would the percentage be? She eats good/healthy food after the event but wants to know how much more she might need or not need to consume.
Audio Question from Josh:
Can seasonal allergies cause his heart rate to get really really low? In April and May he can't get into Zone 4 or 5 while riding. His standing rate is 40 or 50 BPM!
My wife and I ran a 1/2 marathon today. She appears to have a significant histamine reaction causing vasodilatation every time she runs significant distances. Her arms and legs turn purplish red and she feels her blood pressure drops. She dumps cold water on her arms each aid station and that helps some. The problem is worse when it is hot outside. Her hydration and nutrition are good. Her liquid nutrition has electrolytes and she adds a salt tablet to her water bottle. I recall your podcast interview about not needing electrolytes but adding salt seems to help her. What other thoughts do you have?
Audio Question from Hunt(?):
He recently watched “The Truth About Exercise” and saw a genetic test that can guess the potential of an individual's aerobic capacity. He's interested in learning more about that test.
Audio Question from Jerry:
He fell 6 feet on to a mat while bordering which caused pain in the arch of his foot. He called it quits, went home and the next morning there was swelling and bruising (hematoma). He has been using ice, ultrasound and e-stim and is wondering if there are any other ways to speed up the healing?
My wife is a runner and suffers from ulcerative colitis. She has a really clean diet no grains, no dairy or legumes. Her recent flair up sent her to the doctor and they put her on prednisone. 30mg 2 weeks, 20mg 2 weeks, 10mg 2 weeks. Within 24 hr of her first dose her symptoms were much improved. What side effects can she expect, will it effect her running? Is it possible to offset the prednisone side effects with diet and supplementation. What can she expect as the dosage decreases?
~ In my response, I recommend the GAPS diet.
My wife suffers from migraines at least once every 2 months (usually once a month), to the point where she's bed ridden (normally a few hours) until she throws up then the pain subsides within an hour. The doctors reckon it could be her pill, but I wanted your take on it. She eats the standard typical high cho mod pro low fat (enjoys the odd egg) approach diet. Has no known illnesses. Is a fitness instructor and healthy. Have you heard of this before? Is there any known issues of substances or food groups that could induce this reaction?
I know some guys at my gym are talking this 7-Keto DHEA stuff up. Is it a scam? My number one goal is fat loss. If it can indeed increase my thyroid T3, I'll buy the mess out of it!
I am way into minimalist running shoes and use them all the time I am at the gym – for weight training, treadmill, elliptical, rowing. I use the Merrell Trail Glove, which looks like a “normal” shoe (no separate toe compartments). During the week, I try to mix up the cardio day-to-day. There are spinning bikes in the gym with toe clips and I'd like to add them to my cardio repertoire. Given my time constraints, I cannot switch to my (stiff) cycling shoes. So my question is – What are your thoughts on cycling (100 rpm hard intervals) in minimalist running shoes? I have tried the shoes without any problems, but I wondered if you knew of anything showing this to be contraindicated.