Recovery is Essential for a Strong Body, Mind and Immune System

It is so important to your body to allow it to recover from a stressful work out, work day or athletic adventure!  An athlete might feel invincible and that their immune system is just as invincible to any virus out there but without proper recovery anyone can leave themselves open to illness! How could that be? I’m in great shape!!

Lets get an overview of why it’s essential to let your body recover.

In a stressful situation or a hard workout your body, if allowed the proper recovery becomes stronger and adjusts so that you can take on more.  This type of stress is called eustress. When you are subjected to unrelenting stress at work or tough workouts without proper recovery your body can become distressed, having a detrimental effect on your immune system and your overall health.

During shorter workouts Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), the main provider of energy, is supplied from a limited amount in our bloodstream (approx. 5 seconds worth). Breaking down the phosphocreatine molecules adds another 5-10 seconds of energy.  As your workout is prolonged your body has to supply more ATP from another source. The glycogen (glucose storage) in your muscle and liver starts to be used along with limited breakdown of fat (triglycerides) to produce the energy needed. Glycogen in the muscle breaks down (glycogenolysis) releasing glucose to supply ATP to that muscle and the glycogen in the liver breaks down to generate ATP to be released into the blood stream for general use. This process will supply about another 90 seconds and a byproduct is hydrogen ions that make your muscles burn. To keep you going even longer enzymes break down muscle protein into amino acids that the liver uses to produce glucose (gluconeogenesis) for ATP.

Stress at work or life in general can act against your immune system. It can directly affect the function of the immune system but can also be detrimental to your health because of how you react to it. Looking at stress at work as a good thing or a challenge that you can improve and build off of will make your brain stronger for handling stress more efficiently later. Just like a stressful workout you must allow your brain to recover, with proper recovery your mind can become stronger and handle more stress in a healthy manner as you move forward. Fresh air, plenty of water, exercise and good nutrition are key. Doing an activity that you enjoy provides relief to an over worked mind. “Make Stress an Asset” is a mindset that can help you cope.

Stress can deplete glycogen in the brain and produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Under normal amounts of stress cortisol helps you cope and diverts energies away from nonessential body functions. Under extreme or prolonged pressure cortisol can disrupt many body functions and cause problems with your sleep, compounding stress and interfering with the immune system. Your digestion may be disrupted causing a reduction in nutrient uptake at the time nutrients are so important. The lack of nutrients can lead to the depletion of glycogen in the brain reducing the energy for normal brain function increasing the chance of anxiety, depression and headaches. When the brain lacks glucose for energy, concentration, memory and overall sense of well-being can suffer.

What is needed to support a good recovery from mental and physical stress?

As an athlete or just one that maintains a good fit body it is so important to get enough carbohydrates in your diet, this is the main source used in producing your energy. Glucose comes from carbs, which is stored as glycogen in your muscles, liver and brain. When needed the process of breaking down glycogen back to glucose (glycogenolysis) is the most efficient way of producing ATP to give you the energy needed.

Carbohydrates

Carbs get a bad rap and might be thought of as just bread, potatoes and sugar. Choosing the right carbs can, not only supply the energy but many other life nourishing nutrients. Carbs contribute to recovery by rebuilding the glycogen in your muscles, liver and brain assuring the energy to function properly. It’s best to start replenishing within 2-3 hours after your workout. Good carbs come from certified organic unprocessed fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Some of the best carbs are:

Carb                                                   Added nutrients

Blueberries                     Vitamin C & K, manganese  

Bananas                          Fiber, vitamin C & B6, potassium, magnesium

Oat                                   Protein, B1, Manganese, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc

Quinoa                             Manganese, phosphorus, B9, copper, iron

Sweet Potatoes               Beta carotene, vitamin C, B5, B6, potassium

Beets                                 B9, B6, C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, nitrate

Brown rice                        B1, B3, B6, protein, fiber                                         

Spaghetti squash             Vitamin C, B3, B6, potassium, manganese

Unsweetened yogurt        B12, calcium, magnesium, manganese

Carrots                               Beta carotene, Vitamin K, C, potassium, fiber

Broccoli                              Vitamin C, K, B9, potassium, iron, protein

B vitamins are involved in many of the energy transfer processes. Eating foods packed with B vitamins such as dark green leafy vegetables are so important when you are active at any level. They are also important in helping your ability to cope with stress. Under either condition your B vitamins are being used to supply energy. Good recovery includes supplying your body with B vitamins through food or supplementing with a good plant-based non synthetic B complex multi. MrNutrients.com

Fat

It’s important to have some fat in your diet. If your body has used up glycogen it then starts to use fat to produce energy. This process is slower but will supply the energy for extended needs. Once the fat supply has been used the body turns to protein to supply the energy needs. This protein can come from muscle tissue, putting more stress on muscles and breaking down muscle tissue. When protein is used for energy it can inhibit repair and rebuilding of the muscle tissue.

Not all fatty foods are bad. Get certified organic whenever possible.

Some good-for-you fatty foods:

Fatty Food                                                     Added nutrients

Avocado                                  vitamin C, B5, 6, 9, 12, vitamin K, calcium, potassium

Eggs                                        vitamin A, D, B2, 5, 12, fat, choline

Smoked Salmon                     omega 3, leucine, vitamins B3, 5, 6, 12, selenium

Almonds                                 vitamin E, manganese, magnesium

Macadamia nuts                    B1, 6, manganese, copper, magnesium, iron

Extra virgin olive oil              vitamin E, K

Grass fed Cheese                   vitamin A, B2, B12, calcium, zinc

Protein

With extended exercise and the lack of glucose and fat, muscle protein starts to breakdown, on top of that your muscles may get micro tears and as the exercise intensifies those micro tears may become larger and the breakdown of the muscle protein accelerates. With proper recovery the muscle tissue repairs and becomes stronger. Protein and the amino acids contained in protein function as the repair mechanism and with proper nutrients repair and muscle growth happens. For proper recovery you need to feed your body protein along with the right combination of carbs and fat within 2-4 hours after a workout. Whenever possible eat certified organic!

Good recovery protein foods:

Protein                                              Added nutrients

Salmon                       omega 3, leucine, vitamins B3, 5, 6, 12, selenium, potassium

Eggs                            vitamin A, D, B2, 5, 12, fat, choline

Chickpeas(hummus)  fiber, manganese, B1, 6, 9, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, carbs

                                   

Tempeh                      B2, 3, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium

Cottage cheese          B2, 6, 9, 12, selenium, calcium, choline, copper, zinc

Greek yogurt              calcium, magnesium, B12

Scallops                      B12, iron, calcium, omega 3, potassium, phosphorus

Chicken                      B3, B6, selenium, phosphorus, creatine

Red lean meat           iron, B3, B6, B12, zinc, selenium, phosphorus

Hydration

During a workout or a bout of stress you lose water and minerals through sweat. Its important to hydrated before, during and after. Hydration facilitates muscle function, neural impulses, regulates body ph and maintains your mucus protection. Water helps your body remove toxins keeping them from building up and having a negative impact on your immune system. Dr. Brownstein’s (Natural Way to Health newsletter) suggestion on how much water to consume a day: Take your weight divide by 2, that equals how many ounces of water you should drink a day.

Sleep

Last but certainly not least, getting the rest you need is so important. During sleep, Growth Hormone is released for muscle and bone healing and recovery, cytokines of the immune system are produced that are very important to communication within the adaptive immune system and muscles of the heart and lungs are allowed rest, recover and build so they can take on more next time. The brain is allowed to reenergize, remove toxins and reorganize for greater efficiency and clear thinking.

Our body’s production of energy is a fascinating and complicated process. Even more amazing is the way our body recovers from physical and mental stress. I have presented a broad perspective of both processes and how you can support them for a stronger more resilient body. Finding a formula that works best for you is an ongoing endeavor.  Being in touch with what your body is telling you is key to making adjustments to get to where you want to be! Cheers to the journey to the best you!!!

If unable to feed yourself properly, fill the gaps with a great, organic plant-based, non-synthetic multiple vitamin MrNutrients.com

Steve (Oly) Olson

Managing Partner/Founder Mountain Rescue Nutrients

Certified Nutrition Coach

30+ years of Immune System research

Sources:

Krista Scott-Dawson, John Berardi, Brian St. Pierre, Helen Kollias, Camille DePutter. The Essentials of Nutrition and Coaching. Unit 2,3, Fourth Edition 2019

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https://www.nature.com/articles/s42255-020-0251-4

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Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Glaser, R. (1993). Mind and immunity. In: D. Goleman & J. Gurin, (Eds.) Mind/Body Medicine. New York: Consumer Reports

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Milewski MD, Skaggs DL, Bishop GA, Pace JL, Ibrahim DA, Wren TA, Barzdukas A. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. J Pediatr Orthop. 2014 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25028798/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037#:~:text=Cortisol%2C%20the%20primary%20stress%20hormone,fight%2Dor%2Dflight%20situation.

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