Nutritional Effects on Performance Part 3
The average man breaks down and synthesizes about 400 gms protein each day. Fortunately, we recycle much of it, however, much needs to be replaced on a daily basis. The main function of protein after adolescence is to repair wounds, replace and maintain body tissues such as muscles, blood, skin, body organs, and connective tissue. Amino acids, the broken down version of proteins are needed to make enzymes and hormones that regulate most body processes (insulin is one of them). It is needed to make the enzymes digest fats, protein, and carbohydrates. It is critical to the immune system. The antibodies that ward off infections are proteins in of themselves. Many proteins transport nutrients such as sodium and potassium in and out of cells, while others, ferry substances in the blood. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to the brain, lungs, and other tissues. Proteins also play a role in maintaining the body’s water balance. If protein levels in the blood plasma fall too low, fluid accumulates in the tissues (called edema). Proteins act as buffers to regulate the acid-base balance (pH) of the body fluids. If you’re consuming soda’s you especially need more protein as well as more water! Protein can also be used for energy. However, fats and carbohydrates are better energy sources, but if they are not available, the body strips protein being used for other vital functions and uses it instead. In a study done on mental disorders, protein deficiency was identified as one of the causative factors. Severe protein deficiency is called Kwashiorkor. While there are several symptoms, the ones that apply to us include immunodeficiency, pathological changes in the liver, mental apathy, anemia, pancreatic atrophy, and GI disorders. I mention it here because these symptoms will occur in lesser degrees with lesser deficiencies.
A diet too high in protein increases magnesium needs. It also overstresses the kidneys and liver, increases the risk of dehydration (because it requires extra water to rid the body of the by-products of protein metabolism) and contributes to illnesses such as Gout. High protein diets tend to diminish brain function. The main fuel of the brain and nervous system is glucose, which is broken down from carbohydrates. On a high protein diet, fewer carbohydrates are available and the body has to strip either fats or protein from delicate organs to supply the brains’ needs. In the body’s attempt to not break down all its own tissues, it starts to partially burn down the fatty acids (called Ketones). This results in ketosis. Ketosis makes the blood more acidic which can cause potentially serious side effects such as a headache, dizziness, fatigue and if severe enough for long enough it can cause death. So too much protein is not much better than a deficiency is. Single amino acid supplements can cause imbalances that may also interfere with normal absorption of food-derived amino acids. They are generally classified as “unsafe” by the FDA.
VITAMINS & MINERALS:
Every mental state is affected by brain chemistry, from sleep to euphoria, and from depression to anxiety. Supplying ourselves with brain nutrients, and eliminating harmful foods and substances, is an excellent way to enhance and improve our own performance. Elevated copper/zinc ratios, depressed sodium, potassium, manganese, magnesium and abnormal calcium, is found in patients exhibiting violent behavior, poor stress control, and academic underachievement. Deficiencies in copper, zinc and manganese as well as elevated sodium, potassium, iron, calcium, & magnesium (also with heavy metals) causes impulsivity, irritability, drowsiness, and depression. Minerals, vitamins, and amino acids are essential to making neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine needed to balance emotional behavior. Iron & zinc keep the brain sharp. Declining iron levels result in decreased attention span and decreased the ability to concentrate. Decreased levels of zinc decrease the ability to recall specific words. In addition to being high in salt, Antacids deplete this critical iron and zinc and also depletes calcium, folic acid, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Many other medications also deplete either iron or zinc and more. Symptoms of depression include deep sadness, poor concentration, feeling out of control, frustration, helplessness, lethargy, nervousness and self-recriminations. Depression is linked with biochemical imbalances in the brain of neurotransmitters, particularly Dopamine, Serotonin, and norepinephrine. For example, deficits in Serotonin can generate feelings of fatigue, despair, and nervousness and too much norepinephrine can give rise to mania. Amino acids, vitamins, and minerals play a role in encouraging neurotransmitter synthesis and many studies have shown that nutrients are as effective as drugs in producing beneficial results. Effective nerve functioning requires a continuous supply of glucose, oxygen, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium to fire the nerve impulses.
Function: Keep in mind that the following are only the functions that will directly effect performance at the moment. It does not consider the many other health issues each vitamin and mineral effects:
Vitamin A: Is especially needed for night vision.
- Deficiency: loss of visual acuity, night blindness, fatigue, poor digestion. Malaise, proneness to infections & slow wound healing.
Vitamin E: Is needed to help with blood flow to heart & brain.
- Severe Deficiency: Neuromuscular impairment, diminished vibratory sense, loss of reflexes, gait disturbance, paralysis of eye muscles.
Vitamin B’s: Seen as a whole complex is needed for proper nerve and brain function, helps to learn, vision, healthy digestion, stress, needed for energy, controls blood mineral levels, cellular oxidation, and utilization of fats.
- Deficiency: Fatigue, irritability, nerve degeneration, nerve and nervous disorders, shortness of breath, slow heartbeat, weakness, depression, headaches, muscular weakness, adrenal exhaustion, hypoglycemia, premature aging, behavioral changes, dizziness, convulsions, learning disabilities, walking and speaking difficulties, diminished oxidation of cells, heart disease and insomnia.
Inositol: Is needed for Brain cell nutrition & formation.
- Deficiency: High Cholesterol.
Vitamin C: Is essential for Vascular health and to protect the heart.
- Deficiency: Headaches, lowered energy due to adrenal exhaustion, anemia (fatigue).
Calcium: Is needed for mineral and vitamin metabolism, nerve and muscle response, normal behavior and mental alertness, proper heart contractibility, reduces fatigue.
- Deficiency: Muscle cramps, heart palpitations, joint pain, insomnia, nervousness, numbness in extremities.
Copper: Critical for resistance to stress, cell health.
- Deficiency: Fatigue, breathing difficulties.
Iodine: Is the main functional mineral for thyroid health, energy production, fat metabolism.
- Deficiency: Slowed mental reactions, irritability, rapid pulse, hardening of arteries, heart palpitations, sluggish metabolism, and diminished thyroid dysfunction.
Iron: Needed for Synthesis of phospholipids needed for brain health.
- Deficiency: General weakness, impaired respiration.
Magnesium: Needed to make brain tissue, needed for calcium and Vitamin C metabolism.
- Deficiency: Brain and body exhaustion, disorientation, confusion, irritability, muscle twitching or tremors, poor circulation.
Phosphorus: Needed for nerve transmission, fat metabolism.
- Deficiency: Mental and physical fatigue, irregular breathing, nervous disorders.
Potassium: Necessary for neuromuscular contraction.
- Deficiency: Poor reflexes, nervous disorders, insomnia, general weakness, impairment of neuromuscular function, slow, irregular heartbeat.
Sodium: (Not NaCl – table salt): Is needed for Elimination of CO2, the formation of digestive juices, keeps blood minerals soluble, necessary for proper muscular contraction, nerve impulses and regulates water.
- Deficiency: Muscle shrinkage and cramping, diminished fat metabolism, Adrenal exhaustion, dehydration.
Zinc: Is needed to keep the brain sharp, maintains body’s resistance, normalizes sugar metabolism, normalizes heart action.
- Deficiency: Hypoglycemia, diabetes, fuzzy thinking, low immune system.
Chromium: Necessary for glucose metabolism increases the effect of insulin, fat synthesis.
- Deficiency: Hypoglycemia, diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart disease.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFA’s):
Function: Essential fats are what the structure of the brain cell is made of. Your body doesn’t make them. EFA’s increase stamina and endurance, improve protein and amino acid utilization to help maintain lean mass, decrease recovery time and inflammation after exercise and competition and speed healing of injuries, decrease fat storage and production and increase metabolic rate so we can burn more calories. It improves oxygen uptake and utilization, optimizes glandular function, improves circulation and immune function. They help promote sleep and elevates mood, heightens reflexes and concentration, decreases arthritic joint pain and strengthens bones. Every bodily function, either directly or indirectly is dependent upon Essential Fatty Acids. It is the main structural component of every cell membrane, is necessary for cell growth and division, and regulates vital cell activity. Makes red blood cells more flexible and that helps them to receive nutrients and oxygen more easily. They protect the skin, hair and nails from dehydration, they reduce cravings, and they ease the withdrawal symptoms from foods that were weaned (like coffee). It reduces inflammation in the tissues, improves bowel flora, and helps prevents PMS. They lower high triglycerides protecting us from a heart attack or stroke. It helps lower blood pressure by making the vascular walls more flexible. It helps the kidney’s remove excess water, protects the DNA from damage, helps kill fungus and is needed for wound healing. Our immune cells use Essential Fatty Acids to make oxygen “bullets” kill infectious foreign invaders. It is needed to transport and metabolize minerals. It is required for protein metabolism.
Found in Avocados, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, RAW nuts (not roasted) and seeds and in trace amounts in green leafy vegetables and whole grains.
Remember to seek advice from a professional and all the information here is for educational purposes.