I have been working on a longer blog about this subject, but seeing as how just about everybody on the Cleveland Browns has a hamstring issue, I have decided to post a condensed, emergency edition.
I am a 61 year-old cyclist with knees of steel. I can grind the peddles of my bike with maximum effort without having to worry about tweaking a knee. That wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, I had so much pain in my knees that I could barely walk. As you age, it becomes more and more difficult to keep your joints hydrated. So, I have had to become knowledgeable about sports nutrition out of necessity.
I have learned that you need to do two major things to keep your body injury-free:
Step 1 – Eliminate Diuretics
That means no alcohol, caffeine, theobromine (chocolate), or low-carb diets, which are the very worst diuretic of all. If you take any prescription drugs, find out if they are known diuretics and ask your doctor if there is an alternative. Diuretics cause you to urinate out water, leaving less available to form the synovial fluid that keeps your joints lubricated.
Step 2 – Keep Your Body Alkaline
That means no junk food, including sugar, soda, pizza, and surprisingly, some fruits like grapes and raisins. One of the most acidic foods I have found is honey. So, just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it isn’t acidic. Your body has several mechanisms to keep itself pH balanced. However, if you eat an acidic diet, your pH will eventually drop, and things will start to go haywire. The classic symptom is a stiff neck.
Avoiding diuretics is pretty easy, but learning about pH balance takes a little bit of work. So, start out by reading my Acidic & Alkaline Foods page.
Hydration and pH balance are related in that your body burns up electrolytes to neutralize acid. For example, calcium is an electrolyte and also the main ingredient in antacids like Tums. If your body needs more calcium to neutralize all the acid you are consuming, it will pull it out of your bones and teeth, weakening both.
And finally, pH balance is especially important for athletes because training itself is acidifying! Each ATP energy molecule that you burn results in the creation of an acidic hydrogen ion, which then has to be disposed of. Your bloodstream will carry the hydrogen to one of your kidneys where it will be injected into your urine. But when it goes, it takes a potassium atom with it, and potassium, of course, is one of your primary electrolytes.
If you stay hydrated and pH balanced, you will dramatically improve the condition of your joints, muscles, and bones, and have a huge advantage over nearly every one of your competitors. After all, what young athlete is going to give up beer & pizza? Answer: no one. So, this is low-hanging fruit.
If you are an athlete and have success using these principles, please let me know. If you would like to hire me as a consultant, please send an email to the address shown on this page.