If you were going to drive across the country you would obviously make sure you "check" a few things. Did you pack accordingly, turn off the coffee pot, and make sure there was gas in the car. After all you cannot expect your vehicle to get very far if it did not have the fuel to propel it. The same is true for your body. How can we expect to keep moving, and move better without the necessary intake of energy? Here is where nutrition comes in!
If you've been reading our blogs, following us on social media, or have been treated/visited the clinic, you would of heared us talk a lot about "guiding" injured tissue during the healing process through an array of manual and movement based therapies. This all starts at the cellular level through a process known as mechanotransduction - or how our tissues adapt to mechanical stress (You can read about this more in our past blog: "Connecting the Dots").
Every level of human organization depends on the health of our cells and the proteins they create. So let's quickly sum up how nutrition can be VERY important for our cells, and how they communicate by taking a 10,000 foot aerial view.
All cells are surrounded by a plasma membrane, essentially acting as gate keepers for what goes in and comes out of the cell while also allowing the cells to "cross talk". Two main components of the membrane are molecules that either bind with water or fat. As a result of this, an increase in the content of unhealthy fats in our bloodstream (Trans/Saturated) can lead to impaired flexibility and fluidity of the cell. This causes the cells to be more tightly packed and less able to allow proteins in/out while also restricting it's ability to communicate with other cells in the area. To put in more real terms think about this example: Tightly packed cells are more insulin resistant, therefore, insulin can't enter the cell causing a higher insulin concentration in our bloodstream leading to an increased risk of Type II Diabetes. So yes, it all starts and ends with our cells!
What about energy? Our bodies will primarily rely on 3 main systems for energy transfer:
- ATP-PCr - Allowing the body to provide energy for maximal muscle activity (or initiation of exercise) for about 10 seconds. (Think about sprinting). Therefore if you place demands on your body in the likes of HIIT you may want to think about supplementing with creatine as this all important substance is key in providing energy for force production of muscle during maximal contractions.
- Glycolytic Pathway - When energy is required by your body to maintain movement or exercise for more then 10 seconds - usually up to 80 or 90. This system will rely on stored glycogen and available blood glucose (read "carbohydrates").
- Oxidative Pathway - When exercise persists beyond 80-90 seconds this is the primary system we use to maintain energy for the body. At this point, intensity usually decreases, but "steady state" can last for longer durations, again assuming we have enough left "in the tank".
We will dive further into these systems in future blogs but for now the take home message is clear. There are multiple processes going on in our body at a cellular level at all times. If the main things we place into our body everyday are food and force through exercise, it is necessary to create a healthy balance of both to achieve and maintain optimal performance. If our cells are not healthy, or cannot communicate with one another (which is typically the result of poor nutrition choices) we will see a correlation of poor health, decreased energy levels and worsening body composition and performance. If you are not thinking about the cell, you are probably thinking TOO BIG!
Until next time Happy Rehabbing!