All jokes aside, as you will learn, many people are literally walking vessels of septic waste material! In last month's toxicity article, we discussed the importance of the liver's role in detoxifying the body.
We will now focus on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and lymphatic systems. High calorie bodybuilding diets can often overload these two systems; therefore we must find a way to cleanse these two systems so that our bodies can continue to stay healthy and grow.
The GI Tract
The GI tract, which consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine and rectum, is a critical area for bodybuilders. Digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs here. You can eat all the protein you want but it's useless if it's not getting absorbed!
In addition, the liver eliminates many compounds such as toxins via bile into the Colon for excretion. The GI system is also intrinsically related to immune system as well. Almost 40% of the body's immune system is centered around the GI tract, due to our constant exposure here to bacteria and pathogens.
Absorption of food can be hindered by many factors. For example, a diet high in sugar can precipitate Candida-yeast- and other unhealthy bacteria. This altered GI flora can lead to micro-perforations in the GI tract, allowing improperly digested foods - like proteins, to enter the bloodstream and trigger an immune response. This chronic over stimulation of the immune system, with other factors like stress and/or poor nutrition, often leads to immune dysfunction and deficiency. The result - you get sick, feel like crap, or get a disease!
One important area of the GI tract is the colon. The colon has many functions in the digestive process, including the elimination of toxins and waste, absorption of minerals and water, and the recycling of bile. One of the most common GI problems people experience is constipation. It is generally thought to be caused by a low fiber diet and lack of sufficient water.
This slows the elimination process, allowing waste that generates free radicals and toxins such as putrefactants and fermented carbohydrates, to contact our intestinal lining longer.
The result is increased risk of more serious problems like polyps and cancer. The longer your body is exposed to putrefying food in your intestines, the greater the risk of disease. Colon cancer for example is the second most common form of cancer.
According to one school of thought, the modern diet of processed food slows excretion and also causes the colon to secrete protective mucus to reduce the inflammation, and coat and excrete the material. This constant secretion of mucus, combined with poor peristaltic action due to low fiber diet, enables mucus to collect and harden inside the colon.
The longer retention times of food that does not have enough bulk to move quickly via peristaltic action, can cause the colon to develop abnormalities, like spasms (IBS), inflammation (diverticulitis & colitis) and prolapsed colon. Another common problem is bloating.
Bloating In Bodybuilders Can Be Cause By Many Factors:
- Excessive use of hormones and peptides that can lead to visceral fat deposition, and hypertrophy of the small and large intestines,
- Hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles and
- Frequent over-eating and/or poor digestion.
In the case of over-eating the intestines enlarge which results in poor peristalsis (movement of food through the GI tract), which can then result in the accumulation of impacted fecal matter. This in turn can cause enlargement and disfigurement of the once healthy segments of the colon. To aid in digestion, bodybuilders should consider taking digestive enzymes with meals, and also pro-biotics, or beneficial bacteria, to maintain healthy flora in the GI Tract.
According to Gastroenterologist Dr. Anthony Bassler,
Decreasing transit time of food waste in the GI tract is critical as you can now see. You should be having a bowel movement for every meal you eat. One effective way to help cleanse the colon is to eat a high fiber diet. Also the addition of psyllium and bentonite help soften and release impacted material.
Often when we eat 'bad' foods we make it a point to go to the gym to make sure we 'burn' it off. In that sense we realize these types of foods are bad for us. What we must also realize is that these bad foods are also bad for the GI tract. Most processed foods like breads, paste and white rice will slow proper elimination.
Psyllium and colloidal bentonite (taken every day) will act to push all this stuck material out of your body faster. Another option to consider is a series of colonics (not enemas).
Colonics can be an awkward topic at first, however, I know many people who have had great results with them.
- Eat a high fiber diet. Specifically at least one large salad a day, and consider adding a fiber supplement such as psyllium, and even bentonite to assist in removing toxins.
- You should have at least several bowel movements per day (almost one for each meal).
- Consider enzymes to assist in digestion, as well as pro-biotics to maintain healthy (good) bacteria in the GI Tract
- Consider colonics for specific problems or even for prophylactics.
The Lymphatic System
Lymph carries away the toxins, germs, dissolved gases and the large molecules from the body. It can, in particular, remove "trapped proteins" and fat molecules in the tissues. It's a large system; there are approximately 6 to 10 liters of lymph in the body, compared to 3.5 to 5 liters of blood.
Lymph is an integral part of the circulatory system since it is the connecting medium between the blood and tissues. Injectable based steroids and synthol enter the body via this system.
The importance of lymphatic system health was driven home to me when I read in the New York Times how women with lymphatic problems had to keep their fingernails clean because a small amount of dirt under their nails could severely impair lymph flow.
Exercise is one way the body moves lymph. Another effective way is what is called the 'Lymphatic Pump':
Take several deep breaths. On each breath, inhale deeply and exhale forcefully. Do not push the limit of your ability to inhale and exhale - keep it within your comfort region. This is because exhaling too deeply can cause light-headedness and over activate intra-cellular release of lymph.
After several breaths - take a deep breath and hold for a count of seven seconds. This exercise has been shown to activate lymph flow rather dramatically.
- Lymphatic function is a key to good health.
- Take 1 minute each day to do the 'Lymphatic Pump" exercise as described to assist in moving lymph toxins out of your body.
About The Author
Brian Cunningham has a MS in Epidemiology from New York Medical College, and was employed in the pharmaceutical research field. Brian can be reached at Brian@RxBody.com.