3/6/09

Drugs


(chemical formula for Ibuprofen)

There is a drug for everything. No matter how bad you are feeling, you can go to your doctor and with x-symptoms and x-signs you can get a pill to "make you feel better". Sadly, drugs can be expensive. Also, there are dependency issues. Lastly, there is a lot that goes on in the body in order to recognize the drug and there is no drug to cure you 100% w/o side effects.
I don't believe in drugs. I don't even have a regular doctor. I rarely get sick but if I ever feel under the weather, I don't run to the doctor and ask for a pill to make me feel better. I do believe that some people need drugs. There are clinical reasons for drugs and situations where people need to get better quickly. For example, some people need antibiotics or allergy medicine because symptoms affect normal daily living. When I was Kona I had a bottle of Vicodin with me and I had to take a pill to get me through the race. Wow did I love the medications. Sadly, the drug to mask my pain (which I still felt) allowed me to finish an Ironman and experience 10x worse symptoms for the next 4 months.
I do believe in supplements. If a person has dietary issues (vegetarian, lactose intolerant), ethical/religious issues, an illness/disease or extreme lifestyle habits (ex. triathlete, marathon runner, endurance cyclist, etc.) there is a need to supplement the diet with macro and micronutrients that are not received in the daily diet.
When it comes to alleviating symptoms, I like to take a more natural approach. I like to see what foods can make a person "feel better" rather than popping a pill or taking a supplement. So many athletes take supplements because they read a label and they think that supplement will take their training to the next level. However, it is important to understand the ingredients in the product and to find out if that product is really doing the job you need it to do. HINT-Amino acids are CRITICAL in the diet of athletes!
In my biochem class on Thurs we were talking about drugs such as SSRI's (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and NSAID's (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). We also talked about all the side effects of drugs and the difference between generic and named brand drugs. Because there is no chemical difference between generic and named brands, go for generic for ALL brands unless you are taking the medication for hormonal reasons. We also talked about all the different types of drugs to relieve similar symptoms and that the difference between drugs has to do with manufactures and because some people may be allergic to certain ingredients in the drug.
I wanted to provide everyone with a list of my NATURAL choices instead of drugs. Because I am not a RD the information I am providing is not intended to treat or cure any disease and if you do have serious problems, you should always consult a doctor. However, the following foods are in the average diet and now you can feel better knowing what the food is doing to help your body.

To boost serotonin levels (common drugs include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil):
1) Exercise
2) Eat protein (lean meat, fish, cottage cheese, nuts, eggs, beans)
3) Combine complex carbs w/ protein (nuts and fruit, beans and rice)
4) Eat good sources of fats (nuts, flaxseed, olive oil, seeds, avocados, wild salmon, tuna)
5) Take fish oil
6) Avoid relying on caffeine, sugar and alcohol for a boost. Limit yourself to 2-3 cups of coffee and avoid sugary foods as much as you can.
7) Get sleep!
8) Surround yourself with people that give you energy and not take it from you.

Too reduce inflammation (common drugs include Ibuprofen and many sport nutrition-related products)
1) Reduce your intake of simple sugars
2) Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil,flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, coldwater fish)
3) Increase your intake of oleic acid (olive oil)
4) Meet protein recommendations for an active athlete (whey protein powder imediately post exercise, lean meat, high biological value proteins such as eggs, milk, cottage cheese)
5) Reduce your intake of red meat which trigger inflammation
6) Eat a high fiber, complex carbohydrate diet
7) Eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies (especially berries, apples, strawberries)
8) Avoid greasy, baked and fried foods
9) Drink plenty of water

To increase blood flow (Nitric oxide products)
*Most people have heard of viagra for men but did you know that viagra is given to women to lower blood pressure? If you haven't heard of NO supplements (nitric oxide supplements) they are very common to cyclists who race in TT's or crits. The same ingredient in viagra is in many sport nutrition products in order to dialate blood vessels to increase blood flow. Nitric Oxide (NO) is biosynthesized from the amino acid L-Arginine.
1) Eat more nuts (walnuts, almonds, seeds, cashews, peanuts, brazilnuts)
2) Eat more non-meat protein (lentils, beans, tofu, chickpeas, eggs, soybeans, milk)
3) Eat plenty of veggies (plant foods)
4) Eat fish (tuna, salmon, shrimp)

Enjoy your new natural diet!