Alkalinity – A key component to recovery
In an already stressful life, athletes are training harder and pushing their body to the limits each day. One of the most important processes of training is the recovery process. Everyday stress from our life and jobs compounded with our training will create oxidative stress and free radical damage to our connective tissue which over time leads to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation affects the body in a similar way to acute inflammation, which leads to a slow and sometimes incomplete healing and repairing of the connective tissue. Chronic inflammation will also elevate the risk of pain associated with an otherwise normal functioning joint…yes, chronic inflammation will lead to joint pain in an otherwise healthy moving and functioning joint. Chronic inflammation can also lead to incomplete repair of an injured joint which can leading to chronic injury. During chronic inflammation the body becomes more acidic as a result of all the breakdown occurring. This process is a downward spiral if not addressed properly through nutrition by the athlete. Our bodies have stores of alkalinity in the bone and in the blood…but this is a very dangerous exchange which leaves the body void of minerals and will lead to an excessive amount damage and degeneration, we see this on x-ray in younger and younger patients in clinical practice. After the age of 40 our alkaline reserves are said to deplete at an even faster rate which could be an explanation of chronic injuries in older athletes.
How do you know if you are alkaline or acidic? A simple litmus test of the tongue can be performed. At your local vitamin store or pharmacy inquire if they have a saliva pH test kit (very inexpensive) and test your saliva for 3 mornings in a row before you eat or drink anything. Measuring your pH gives you a baseline and it will also let you know if you are making any changes to influence your pH through your recovery efforts.
Some of the ways to improve alkalinity are as simple as avoiding certain foods like grains, sodas and alcohol. For a list of potentially acidic foods to avoid check out this article http://www.livestrong.com/article/23346-high-acidic-foods-list/. So what do we eat? Since there are many foods we eat that may be potentially acidic we need to overcompensate with foods that are alkaline…dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, chard and other “greens”. Dark colored fruits and vegetables are very alkaline and are a great choice when juicing or blending smoothies. Organic and raw veggies have great stores of alkalinity and trace minerals to help the body replenish the alkaline storage and keep the body from breaking down through the recovery process. If you don’t like the thought of having to eat raw greens, there is another way to get a similar effect (nature is perfect, man is not) in the form of fruit and vegetable powders. There are a number of greens and vegetable powders at the vitamin store and online. According to a recent article in the British Journal of Nutrition:2001 Apr, 85(4):459-64 fruit and vegetable powders are as effective at increasing blood antioxidant levels as real fruits and vegetables. Whether you eat, drink, juice or blend your fruits and vegetables 5-7 servings is key to optimal recovery!
Dr. James Bailey
35 Jackson Street
Newnan, Ga 30080