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Performance Nutrition for the Active Lifestyle

As a health consultant specializing in human performance and clinical sports nutrition, I routinely engage with a wide variety of clients who express enormous variation in body chemistry, origin of descent, body composition and knowledge in health, fitness and nutrition. On a one to one basis, my initial goal is to determine their present functional health status and physical condition. This is achieved through a personal interview and an eclectic variety of health assessments and screening procedures.

Next, I identify their personal objectives and then design a practical lifestyle strategy for the achievement of their goals. This always includes the addition and/or modification of the following triad:

1) A structured one-hour exercise program (5 days per week), which emphasizes a brief warm-up period, abdominal and lower back exercise, resistance training, aerobic conditioning and complete body stretching.

2) A compatible dietary protocol consisting of whole non-contaminated natural food from both plant and animal origin, based on ancestral and traditional evolutionary patterns, biochemical tolerance and the science of biological medicine.

3) Dietary supplements featuring essential micronutrients, mixed source antioxidants, whey protein isolate, creatine monohydrate, HMB, L-glutamine, Ribose, engineered meal replacements and a variety of accessory nutrients and selected medicinal agents.

The vast majority of modern day illness is caused or exacerbated by inactivity, micronutrient insufficiency, chronic acidosis, dehydration, sleep deprivation, drug abuse, etc… Through an integrative process of health care assessment and discussion, I have found that virtually every symptom of illness, such as infection, fatigue or obesity, can be traced back to its origin of cause. Treating chronic symptoms with drugs will not remedy the problem. To kill a weed, you’ve got to pull it out by the roots.

Newtonian physics teaches that every effect has a cause, so the challenge lies in the search for the cause, as human life is frequently complexed by emotional disarray, mental aberration, philosophical debate, religious prejudice, confusion and fear. This is where Einstein’s theory of quantum physics comes in, as the variables that drive our behavior or hinder our pursuit for excellence are seldom tangible in essence. Searching for causes on all levels takes time, patience, money and compassion. But once the process is complete the results are seldom less than outstanding.

We can visualize the composite of our blood and roughly estimate our body fat percentage, but even the greatest mind cannot quantify plasma homocysteine or measure oxidized low-density lipoprotein fractions by thought alone. Much of what goes on inside our body is autonomic, including the negative changes in homeostasis, which occur as our bodies adapt to oxidative stress, toxicity and environmental pollution. Fortunately, much of what we don’t know about our internal biological terrain can be discovered with the tools of complementary medical science.

It’s important to rationalize health in the context of how we “feel” and clearly, the emotions associated with the need for change are instrumental to human motivation. But to rely entirely on our own subjective experience is unwise. To complete the picture, we can greatly benefit from information derived from an outside, objective view. To see ourselves “as we are” so to speak.

So prior to any final exercise, diet and lifestyle recommendations, I prefer that each client undergo a comprehensive series of examinations, including a compulsory fitness assessment, hair analysis, a customized blood & urine chemistry profile, somatotyping (blood & body type, ethnic origin, gland dominance), a chiropractic exam, extensive dietary analysis, evaluation of thyroid function and a complete review of medication, recreational drug use and dietary supplements.

Fitness Testing

A standard fitness appraisal consists of a body composition analysis, a submaximal aerobic test, and an assessment of your blood pressure, heart rate, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility. A comprehensive report is provided that details the results of the tests. I recommend a University Human Performance Centre.

A fitness test puts an end to all speculation. Pushing yourself to the physical extreme in a controlled, safe environment forces you to meet yourself in a way not common to the mundane experience of sedate living. The results can be shocking and extremely motivating. Much of what is discovered is compared to ideal standards based on your chronological age. This provides a reference point, which also correlates with risk of disease and premature death, such as excess bodyfat, muscle weakness, poor flexibility or a high resting heart rate.

What we don’t use, we lose. So exercise and physical activity is an essential behavior for the maintenance of our form and function as we age. Swimming for example increases both our vital capacity and muscle endurance. Inactivity reduces vital capacity. This means less oxygen gets to your brain, your muscles and your vital organs. The ultimate effect is less energy and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. All human cells, tissues and organs need optimum levels of oxygen to function. It was Otto Warburg, the German biochemist and two-time Nobel laureate, who demonstrated that when deprived of oxygen, normal cells in tissue culture become cancerous and that when exposed to controlled levels of oxygen, cancer cells die.

Hair Analysis

Hair analysis is a screening and diagnostic tool for measuring mineral and heavy metal status. About one gram of hair is removed from the nape of the neck, after which it is washed to remove any contaminants. The specimen is dried, weighed, concentrated, liquefied and then atomized by a nebulizer. Through exposure to a temperature of over 10,000 degrees C, excited mineral atoms emit photons of radiant energy (light) with a specific wavelength for each element. This information is received by a computer, which converts the signals into parts per million (ppm) concentration.

Trace mineral nutrition and metabolism plays an enormous role in the maintenance of good health and a yearly analysis acts as a measure for early detection of imbalance, deficiency and toxicity. Low chromium and zinc for example, are related to glucose intolerance and diabetes. When levels of calcium and magnesium read high, osteoporosis or decalcification of the bones is usually apparent. High levels of lead are associated with mental dysfunction and cadmium toxicity is related to hypertension.

Hair analysis reflects mineral accumulation and measures the deposition of elements averaged over a three-month period. Hats off to my friend and mentor, Dr. Joseph Campbell, who as a resident of Victoria, BC, is recognized as a pioneer in this important field of health care assessment.

Blood Chemistry & Blood Type

A profile of your blood is useful for the identification of several constituents, including total cholesterol, cholesterol ratio (HDL/LDL), glucose, triglycerides, liver enzymes, hematocrit and uric acid. Blood is an extracellular transporting medium and its analysis reflects a snap shot in time. Values expressed are compared to a reference range of normality, which may or may not be ideal within the context of biochemical individuality. Lab results may bring attention to larger metabolic issues, and the need for further investigation.

In addition to the above mentioned conventional standards, I also recommend checking insulin levels, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), plasma glutamine concentration, serum ferritin levels, homocysteine, creatinine and depending on age, DHEA-S. Over time, a diet high in sugar and refined high-glycemic carbohydrates causes insulin to elevate to toxic levels (hyperinsulinemia). Ferritin is the body’s chief form of stored iron, homocysteine and oxidized-LDL are cardiovascular risk factors, creatinine and BUN indicate kidney function & protein metabolism, glutamine status relates to fatigue and immune function and DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) is an intermediate adrenal hormone, considered by many physicians to be an accurate predictor of aging.

Most people do not know their own blood type (A, B, AB, O). Outside of blood transfusion concern, there is evidence which suggests the possibility of dietary compatibility factors with respect to lectin metabolism, certain personality traits and tolerance to various forms of exercise. I find the concept fascinating. Type A for example, may have a greater propensity for whole grains and vegetables, whereas type O is considered the true carnivore and should avoid wheat and soy. For more information, read Dr. D’Adamo’s popular new book “Eat Right For Your Type”.

Dietary Analysis

You are what you eat, absorb, assimilate, metabolize and don’t excrete. Every chemical, pesticide, food-coloring agent and preservative concealed in refined food passes through your GI tract and/or liver, depleting important enzyme and energy reserves. It is illogical to assume that optimum health and a lean toned physique can be achieved or maintained on a typical Canadian diet. We eat far too much sucrose, fructose and corn syrup, and the vast majority of our population uses white flour, commercial dead oil and rancid fat as staple food items. In this regard, ignorance is not bliss.

What you eat and when you eat is critical to managing your body composition, your fitness and athletic performance and resistance to infection, injury and disease. I check for food quality, biochemical compatibility, acid/alkaline ratio, micronutrient density (vitamin & mineral content), macronutrient percentage (protein, fat and carbohydrate), biological value of protein, glycemic index of carbohydrates, omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acid ratio, grams of protein, water and beverage consumption, food cravings, missed meals and live food intake (raw vs. cooked). Counting calories is passé; whereas food chemistry and molecular hormonal interaction is where it’s at for health, weight management and better performance. I always find room for improvement.

My advice is to build up a network of competent health advisors who you employ with discretion for the purpose of staying well. If you can’t talk to your health care professional without fear of ridicule or criticism, then find a new one. Prevention is still the best policy. If you exercise correctly with intensity & intelligence, consume an abundance of natural whole organic food designed to supply your biochemical demands and use high-quality dietary supplements to augment your active lifestyle objectives, then I guarantee you’re well on your way to achieving the highest degree of long-term functional health attainable.