So you want to go to the store ten miles away. You could walk but that would take too long. So you get in some vehicle and drive over.
When it comes to nutrition, the vehicle is vital. We may look for a food that has the highest level of a particular nutrient, but will that food be the best vehicle to get the nutrient into our bodies? If your food isn’t actually delivering nutrients that your body chemistry requires, or the food is damaging you in some way, then it is not going to promote health, which is really the goal, isn’t it?
Those of us wishing to build muscle and strong bones are most susceptible to the hype. Buy this protein powder, eat red meat, drink plenty of milk for strong bones — you’ve probably heard it all, but many of these vehicles won’t deliver, or will deliver more trouble than you bargained for. Let’s dig deeper, so you know what will actually work…
Whatever happened to Popeye?
The old cartoon got one thing straight — dark green vegetables, such as spinach, are great vehicles to feed muscle growth. Canned, killed spinach loses a lot of value, so Popeye would have done better grazing in a garden, but that would not have made for a good story line. Yet, the recognition that a plant could help you build muscle was dead-on accurate.
Published in the Journal of Nutrition, a study conducted at the Edith Cowan University found that “…diets high in nitrate-rich vegetables may bolster your muscle strength independently of any physical activity.” Yes, you read that right: independently of physical activity! They go on to say that diet should be combined with regular exercise, so don’t you just sit back and relax to build your muscle! The study used data from 3,759 Australian participants over a 12-year period, and observed an 11% greater strength than those with low nitrate intake. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, beet greens and spinach are high in nitrates, and green algae is quite high. Great — so what’s a nitrate?
You may have heard about nitric oxide, especially if you are actively muscle training. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels so they can deliver more blood flow to working muscles, providing oxygen and removing waste more rapidly. Dietary nitrate is a source cells use to produce nitric oxide. A study published in Physiological Reports, conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, tested subjects two hours after ingesting high nitrate vegetable juice and found a significant improvement in maximum muscle extension and muscle strength. Dietary nitrate is reduced to nitric oxide in cells by removal of oxygen molecules. Providing food nitrates supplies nitric oxide production. And plants, which take nitrogen from the soil and bind it into nitrates, are the best vehicle for natural nitrates. Sodium nitrite, which is used as a preservative in some processed meats, is a horrid vehicle: it tends to narrow blood vessels and can even cause vessel damage.
Plants are much more than a source of natural nitrates. As a nutritional vehicle, they are so full of extra nutrient benefits that science is still discovering more. Plants provide a vast array of phytonutrients, they provide a host of trace elements, and assuming you are avoiding pesticides in your choices, they don’t provide significant levels of toxins — unlike meats, where toxins have been concentrated. Why do these matter for strength training? Simple — exercising requires energy, coordination of the nervous system, ample waste removal, and high oxygen supply. Without good health, exercise is difficult, and the body doesn’t have the needed resources to rebuild and strengthen. In fact, some athletes have died from catastrophic nutrient depletion, and exercise may not increase your lifespan if it regularly leaves you in a nutrient deficit.
Some major nutrients needed to build muscle besides nitrates are: calcium, biotin, iron, selenium, copper, magnesium, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and riboflavin. To get all those nutrients in proper ratios, you need plants — the right vehicle.
What about bones?
Muscle strength without bone strength means that bones can break with exercise. Muscles depend upon bones to pull against to provide movement. As your muscles strengthen and you use them, they create micro-stresses on the bone, which signal the body to strengthen the bones where stressed. That’s why exercise promotes both muscle and bone strength.
Bone density loss is a major concern with aging for many people. Internally, bones are made up of collagen fibers and crystalized minerals. Collagen is a protein, and the minerals are mostly a combination of calcium and phosphate in the form of calcium hydroxyapatite. Collagen provides the framework for the minerals, and even though the minerals are rigid and inflexible, the collagen does provide a little flexibility. Strong healthy bones have enough flexibility to avoid shattering readily — you would be worse off with truly rigid bones which, though very strong, could not withstand shocks.
Everyone talks mainly about the calcium aspect of bones. That is because the body has an even higher priority than preserving bone strength — it absolutely must preserve the pH (acid/alkaline) balance in the blood, and it treats bones as a calcium warehouse. It also needs calcium for proper function of the heart and muscle contractions and some other critical metabolic functions. Bones provide a source for calcium through what is called ”bone remodeling”.
Since calcium is vital to life, calcium management is highly regulated in the body through a complex sensor and feedback system. An article published by the National Academy of Sciences explains this system as “characterized by a series of homeostatic feedback loops.” The article explains that calcium usage is mostly regulated by the parathyroid hormone (PTH)-vitamin D endocrine system. When the circulating calcium levels drop, the parathyroid senses the drop and increases PTH secretion. This then causes increased enzymatic activity in the kidney, which then converts vitamin D into the hormone calcitriol. Then calcitriol stimulates calcium absorption from the gut. A vitamin D deficiency will hamper this process, and if calcitriol is low, large amounts of calcium intake will be ignored by the digestion process and simply excreted. Merely having lots of calcium in your diet means little if your digestion is ignoring it. If you are low on vitamin D, you may be unable to absorb your dietary calcium. And for vitamin D to function properly, you also need sufficient levels of magnesium, boron, zinc, and vitamins A and K2 (produced by your gut bacteria). Again, plants provide the right vehicle to give you these nutrients and trace elements in proper proportions. Don’t forget sunlight for vitamin D!
Don’t ignore the elephant in the room…
Consider this: elephants do not eat meat, only plants. Yet, they somehow manage to have very powerful muscles and bones. Obviously you aren’t an elephant, but this proves that plants can provide everything needed to build extreme muscle and bone mass. Surely that debunks the arguments for meat and dairy to build your muscles and bones. You might argue that a lion has strong muscles and bones as well. Yes, but they live up to 25 years, while elephants can live to 70. Even though lions are designed to eat meat, even they cannot overcome the toxic build-up that comes from living higher on the food chain.
If we look at plant-eating animals, we see another trend: they eat a lot! Elephants eat an average of 300 pounds of food daily. Since plants are low on the food chain, eating more is helpful to accumulate nutrient density. This is a take-away for us humans: eat leafy vegetables, eat them frequently, eat plenty, and eat raw so you don’t destroy or alter nutrients. You cannot overeat vegetables or become overweight from a high vegetable diet. This is one diet where you can take the “all you can eat” approach.
You can see that your body needs many nutrients, including “micro” nutrients that are considered trace elements. Plants are key to getting this variety. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and choose good food over fast convenience foods — it’s all about choosing the right nutritional vehicles each day. Choose the right vehicle to get you where you want to go!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
People are so susceptible to what others think and say. So many think you need animal protein to grow big muscles and you need milk, dairy or calcium supplements to have strong bones. False and false.
Who is the king of the jungle? Of course the elephant. No lion would ever think of going one on one with and elephant. What is important to understand is how an elephant gets so strong and stays healthy for its lifespan.
- It eats grasses and leaves primarily- that is it
- It eats living food, not raw or cooked – this is a major key. “Living” means the food is still growing, still has life in it. We call this energy “biophotons”. Living and raw food also have large amounts of unaltered enzymes that are key in every cellular reaction.
If you want strong muscles, strong bones and longevity then you will eat more green living and raw plants. Remember pH is what must be maintained in the blood and the average American is so inflammatory with the SAD diet and stress that this drives the pH towards acidity. To counter this the body must buffer the acid with a strong alkaline substance and it chooses to use calcium. So what is the major cause of osteoporosis? Acidity from high animal protein consumption, including milk, and dairy and high carbohydrate diets, along with high mental and emotional stress. The second cause of osteoporosis is lack of exercise. So eat your greens, move and become strong, live long and have strong bones.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.