Athlete’s Best Friends: Glutathione and L-Glutamine

During intense interval training, HIIT, or prolonged exercise such as a marathon – an athlete’s body reacts by an increase in oxidated stress, OS, in the body cells. OS causes a major disruption of body cells that lead to weakened muscles, reduced immune system and reduced human growth hormone. Normally, OS can accelerate aging and lead to chronic inflammation and major diseases; it normally occurs from unhealthy lifestyle and diet such as excess sugar, processed food, excess fat, stress, pollution, radiation, smoking, etc.

An explanation of OS is necessary. Simply explained OS is an imbalance between free radicals (oxygen molecules) with an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidant molecules that fight the OS. The beneficial antioxidants that fight the OS are glutathione (number one supplement) and L-glutamine (amino acid), polyphenol vegetables and fruits, many spices, and even includes red wine, cocoa, dark chocolate, and flaxseed. The antioxidants supply the missing electrons to the free radicals thus fighting and reducing the OS.

In most workouts the supplement glutathione in the body and L-glutamine (manufactured in the body as a nonessential amino acid) and the above foods bring the OS under control and the body recovers to normal.

Like human growth hormone, glutathione levels decrease with age. And glutathione levels are a good indication of longevity. A glutathione supplement is not easily absorbed so it is not practical to take before a stiff workout. The other not simple alternative is cysteine, glycine and glutamate amino acid foods from which glutathione is manufactured. Therefore, L-glutamine in powder form is the more practical antioxidant following an intense or prolonged workout. About 5 grams of L-glutamine is recommended to fight the oxidated stress—thus improving the immune system, increasing human growth hormone and repairing damaged cells. Note 150 grams (about 4.5 ounces) of beef gives 1.8 grams of glutamine. But the more you ingest as a supplement means less produced by the body. L-glutamine is a nonessential amino acid meaning that the body produces it from other amino acids. Note also L-glutamine decreases after an intense workout by up to 50%, and it takes a few days to replenish.

I was unable to find a reliable research source for the increase of human growth hormone from a single L-glutamine dose. But one reference in 2018 claimed 76% increase from a 2- gram L-glutamine dose. Several other sources claiming much higher percentage such as 400% were suspicious or “sketchy” references. After a marathon it is not unusual to catch a cold due to lowered immune system. Ed Whitlock also mentioned this to me a few years ago. As a matter of interest, I read of a research study that showed 5 gram after a marathon would prevent this from happening. Also, a few years ago I witnessed at the finish of a Nova Scotia half marathon In Toronto the extreme wear and tear on the faces of my friends: they appeared to have aged about 5 or more years in a couple of hours; all due to oxidative stress, OS. Also the attached photo of Ed Whitlock near the end of a world record Scotia Bank marathon shows similar wear and tear. OS is always at work doing its harm to the body, mind and skin (in my case liver spots), but all due to dealing with one or more of the following: excess effort, inappropriate diet, excess sugar, toxins, radiation, pollution, etc.

In summary I recommend a single dose about 5- gram glutamine dose or a shake after an intense or prolonged workout with many of the above 3 major glutathione precursor amino acids (cysteine, glutamate and glycine) pertinent ingredients such as whey powder, cocoa, soy milk, banana, orange, leafy greens, fruit previously frozen, pumpkin seeds and 2-5 grams of l-glutamine.

One final thought: during this epidemic, athletes doing an intense workout or prolonged workout might consider a few grams of L-glutamine after the workout to help preserve a healthy immune system at this critical time. Also by taking the L-glutamine supplement and eating glutathione foods like whey powder, meat, milk, nuts and soya for example, to assist a high intensity or long endurance workouts you will also be increasing your longevity and reducing all forms of disease.

The photo is from a Globe and Mail article a few years ago comparing the drastic difference in my lifestyle and training with Ed Whitlocks.

Solo Dancing

It’s a changing world. No hugging, and no couple dancing, etc. But there can be, solo dancing.

So I am promoting it here. My motto is Staying Alive, I Will Survive, and I Hope You Dance (Lee Anne Womack). Someone was asking me lately, “What is your favourite pastime during this epidemic?” I said, “Staying Alive, of course.” I am advocating some solo dancing a few times a week, even just 15 minutes in a session. Since it is an excellent activity, good for flexibility, morale, and anti-aging. Ideally your partner is a mirror near your CD player or computer. And a good alternative since particularly since most of your exercise opportunities have been ordered off bounds.

In 2019 at age 90, I took dance lessons at Arthur Murrays and Fred Astaire studios for many weeks. So don’t tell me you are too old to be doing this now. As expected, I found out I was not the quickest learner. I particularly liked a fast fox trot, or waltz or merengue (somewhat similar to the old disco but slower). 2019 with four world records was one of my best running competition years ever. So dancing didn’t hurt my running. However, I did injure my ankle in one studio session with a foot dragging move. So I caution you about any unusual moves in your solo dancing.

For the few interested in solo dancing, I include below my list of energizing, fast, disco, merengue, or hustle music. To play these, go to YouTube and enter the title and artist. I have some CD’s with some of these songs. But on YouTube, you can also enjoy watching the dance moves of the performers, e.g., as in Disco Fever. Maybe you will adapt some of the simpler moves.

Here is my list of favourites, not in any order, to dance to:

– Disco Fever by the Trammps
– Staying Alive by the Bee Gees
– I Love Music by O’Jays
– Neutron Dance by the Dancing sisters (this really rocks, used to be sung by some expert singers at my favourite Karaoke Bar)
– I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
– YMCA and In the Navy by Village People
– Don’t Leave Me this Way by Thelma Houston
– Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough by Michael Jackson
– Le Freak by Chic
– The Hustle by Van McCoy
– And my favourite: Dancing Queen by Abba.

Before I leave, I recommend you go to YouTube and bring up Tones and I Dancing Monkey Choreography by Lianna Blackburn. Just to watch and enjoy. Not to duplicate.

Olive Oil, the Wonder Food

Olive oil is a wonder food which we should all have in our diet in view of its many advantages. A basic food in the popular Mediterranean diet is olive oiI and used on my abundant vegetables every day. Also, the oldest person in the world Jeanne Calment from France survived for 122 and ½ years also used olive oil at each meal and externally. She also drank port wine daily, smoked, and ate 2 pounds of chocolate each week. But she was unstressed in spite of bad sight, bad hearing, feeling bad, but never complaining. But it was the olive oil she used frequently that caught my major attention.

Some of the many advantages of olive oil as a food are as follows:

– Internally stabilizes and lowers blood sugar, hence lowers bad cholesterol (LDL)and improves good cholesterol (HDL).
– Anti- inflammatory. Inflammation is the precursor of many diseases.
– Helps moisturize skin
– Produces vitamin E
– Causes heathier colon
– Lowers risk of some cancers
– Increases collagen, hence helps cure knee injuries
– Strengthens bones
– Anti-diabetic effect by lowering the blood sugar
– Increase blood flow in all parts of the body
– Pain relief by acting as a naturally occurring NSAID like Ibuprofen.
– Enhances the immune system
– Anti-oxidant by neutralizing free radicals (see below)

Olive oil taken internally plays an important role as an antioxidant by fighting the unstable molecules called free radicals produced in the body. The free radicals are missing electrons causing oxidative stress and many health problems— and are in constant search to bind with another electron to establish themselves. This short description may sound confusing but the free radicals cause considerable damage in the body and are produced by common occurrences in the body such as smoking, alcohol, drugs, metabolism, processed foods, tap water, pollution, personal care products, pesticides, household cleaners, and many other toxins. These unstable molecules cause cancer, heart disease, arthritis, stroke, diabetes, actually 22 diseases in all. But the bottom line is; olive oil, particularly virgin olive oil, as a food is a strong antioxidant that combats the damaging free radicals. The result is many bonafide health advantages. So I go along with Jeanne Calment.

Olive oil has been used externally in many countries for thousands of years such as Egypt for healthier skin or hair, or for massage. Before using topically test on your body on a as mall spot. I do not recommend since there is a possibility of pimples, itching, rashes, or allergy for some individuals…

The great photo is by Annie Bunting at the Sacramento Worlds 2011, with my 2 late legendary friends Olga Kotelko and Ed Whitlock.

DEEP DIAPHRAGM BREATHING BENEFITS

At yoga class I have learned “Pranayama”, the art of Yoga breathing. Basically it is deep diaphragm breathing or belly breathing. There are many benefits to diaphragm breathing which I describe below. Recently, I discovered on my own a huge new benefit for diaphragm breathing described herein. It has to do with a condition (not rare) I have had for about 15 years called Tachycardia (similar to atrial fibrillation) both of which cause a sudden high rapid increase in heart beat up to 250 bpm in some people. In my case my heartbeat during an episode is lower about 120 bpm. An episode could be brought on by stress, caffeine, even decaff tea or coffee, dehydration (hot weather can cause problems I have found), or it occurs for no particular reason and it could last for minutes or hours. And many running athletes have developed or will develop this condition. There is a good chance I got my condition from running. Even if you don’t have this condition─some daily diaphragm breathing exercises daily have many healthy advantages.

To stop this high rapid heartbeat which could continue for hours, I normally lie down, relax, think calm thoughts, with feet above the heart, and/or take a prescribed pill, e.g., Propranolol (Inderal). I have been told that tensing the body might help to stop the high beat and slight weakness, but this is entirely useless. If it continues for about 3 hours (this is rare) I normally would go to emergency, but then they would keep me for about 4 hours while checking me out. I have missed some very important races particularly in hot climates (e.g., Los Vegas, Utah (Huntsman‘s Games), Sacramento, and Winston Salem (this year) ─when my heart would not return to normal before the race. In these cases, I would have deep concern that I would not recover in time before the race so the extra stress does not help recovery.

So I was very happy and elated to discover on my own that deep diaphragm breathing would return me to normal even after just 1 or 2 deep diaphragm type breaths in some cases, without the use of medication or at least considerably shorten the duration. I have found this method, done correctly, even works sometimes when I feel an episode coming on, stopping it before it takes over. I urge all people with Tachycardia or Atrial Fibrillation to use this simple technique described below to prevent or eliminate an episode to shorten the length of an episode. This also results in less use of medication which has some adverse side effects. If I use the medication (Propranolol also called Inderal I have much less energy for running on the day I take a pill. I call my method DDBST (Deep Diaphragm Breathing Stops Tachycardia.) It works for me. However, I do not claim it will work for everyone with this condition.

Also it has occurred to me that some meditation every morning including deep diaphragm breathing, putting one in a relaxed frame of mind, should help to prevent an episode during the day. One good recommendation for diaphragm breathing is 3 to 4 sessions per day and 5 to 10 breaths at a session─ or 5 to 10 breaths before sleeping and when you wake up should also be preventative for a Tachycardia or Atrial Fibrillation episode. For those without these heart problems perhaps refer this article to a friend or parent who might have this condition. Otherwise, see the major advantages of diaphragm breathing below which would be of interest to all.

THE METHOD. Diaphragm breathing or basic Pranayama is described below:

The diaphragm is dome shaped like a parachute of thin muscle separating the lungs and heart from the abdominal region. See the diagram below.

1. On inhaling deeply and slowly for about 3 seconds the diaphragm contracts moving downwards compressing the abdominal space below allowing the stomach to rise and allowing more space for the lungs to expand. This lowers the pressure in the lung area assisting inhalation. Don’t tense the stomach─ letting it rise naturally and gradually. Think and visualize the diaphragm moving downwards and the stomach as a balloon filling with air. See the attached diagrams. The chest or shoulders should not move or breathing is incorrect. The incoming oxygen provides energy and nutrients to all organs.

2. There is a short pause before exhaling.

3. On exhaling slowly for about 3 seconds or slightly longer─ the diaphragm constricts and moves upwards pushing out air, while the stomach and abdomen recedes naturally. See the attached diagrams. Think and visualize the diaphragm moving upwards. The CO2 and toxins exiting, detox the body.

4. There is a short pause at end of exhale.

In my method to stop Tachycardia or Atrial fibrillation the inhale is deeper than normal diaphragm breathing, and the pauses 2 and 4 above are slightly exaggerated. The exhale is slightly longer than the inhale but not overly long as this could cause a shortness of CO2 which in turn causes less oxygen to the brain, heart and other extremities. Stop the longer exhale if feeling dizzy or any other problems. Breathing is normally through the nose. During breathing if possible, make some breathing noise at top of your throat, not too load and not too soft; it is like a muffled ocean roar. This is considered an important part of diaphragm breathing. Some practise is recommended to master the correct diaphragm breathing technique. In early sessions start with lying on your back with a book on your stomach. Progress doing practise while sitting, then standing with back to a wall, slow walking, and then fast walking. When the technique is mastered in fast walking I suspect? it should become natural in running.

OTHER BENEFITS OF DEEP DIAPHRAGM BREATHING

– Calms the nervous system and improves your mood. Use it when stressed or anxious, before an important meeting, before giving a speech, etc.

– It brings in more oxygen to the muscles, heart and other organs making them healthier and stronger. More oxygen means more energy.

– The slightly greater exhale and more efficient lungs improve toxin removal. The contractions of the diaphragm stimulate the lymph nodes and increases toxin removal from the lymphatic system. (My DDBST works at least for me possibly because the greater movement of the diaphragm may be also exercising or stimulating the heart.) The increased toxin and healthier organs removal increases longevity.

– The greater access to the more efficient lower lungs compared to upper lungs results in greatly increased gas exchange or lung capacity.

– Athletic benefit. Use it just before a competition to calm yourself. “Every sport has a moment when your focus and concentration needs to be maximized.” (Okanagan Peak Performance Strength and Conditioning)

– Miscellaneous. Lowers blood pressure, increases circulation, strengthens intestinal and abdominal muscles, improves posture, improves sleep, and reduces pain. Some claim it reduces risk of heart disease and cancer. In a yoga session when a pose is stressful─ diaphragm breathing will make you forget the discomfort.

FINAL WORD

Deep diaphragm breathing is recommended as a good health practice for everyone, usually 10 breaths every day before sleeping and on waking. Or practice at any spare moment during the day is a healthy habit. Use it during meditation. During these sessions think of the diaphragm moving and also the many advantages of deep diaphragm breathing.

HOW RUNNERS DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE WITH AGE

The following abbreviated information is from my book, “100 Years Young the Natural Way (Body Mind and Spirit).

World Record Holders Decline in Performance % /Year from Age 35 to 62.5

Using data from World Masters (specific) Age Records 2005 edition. (I was honoured and very fortunate to be on the cover of this last edition of specific age world records.)

%/Year Men 1st column Women 2nd column

Conclusions:

  1. Increased performance loss per year as the distance becomes longer. Compared to long distance runners, sprinters show the lowest decline /year with age since they are doing a great deal of flexibility and anaerobic strength training, i.e., fast movements exercising the fast twitch muscles.
  2. Women decline significantly more than men at all distances

Author Dr.Vonda Wright examined the age related decline of athletes at the 2001 U.S. National Senior Games and also of American Masters track and field athletes for age 35 to 85. She concluded:

  1. Between age 50 to 75 for both men and women in both groups above there was about 2% /year decline in performance with slightly more decline for women.
  2. Between age 75 to 85 the decline was 8% /year average for men and women for the Senior Olympians , and for the American Masters record holders the decline was 4.1% /year for men for men and 10.3%/year for women.

World Record Holders Decline in Male Performance % /Year from 85-90

Conclusions:

  1. Sprinters decline in performance slower by a factor of 2, than middle distance or long-distance runners.
  2. Decline per year for world record holders at 85-90 is about 3 to 4 times higher than between age 35 and 62.5.
  3. World record holders decline in performance at a much slower rate than Senior Olympians. Hence it is reasonable to expect sedentary people will age much quicker than Senior Olympians, American National athletes and world record holder athletes.