Whether you are a novice or competitive athlete, when you undertake any exercise, you want to take preventative measures to reduce muscle damage.
During exercise the two leading causes of muscle damage are inflammation and oxidative stress.
The natural bioactive polyphenols of the spice turmeric called curcuminoids have been shown to counteract both inflammation and oxidative stress caused by exercise.
Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) leads to the onset of an inflammatory response that is associated with a decrease in the ability to generate muscle strength, decreased range of motion, localised swelling, delayed onset muscle soreness and increased muscle proteins in the blood (such as creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase and myoglobin).
Inflammatory responses are always linked to oxidative stress and both are directly involved in EIMD.
The Science Bit
A 2020 review showed that supplementing with turmeric extract at a dose between 150mg – 1500mg per day before and during exercise and up to 72 hrs post exercise improved performance by reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and reducing inflammation caused by physical activity. Read PubMed Article
Another review showed that participants who supplemented with a turmeric extract demonstrated reduced inflammation and oxidative stress, decreased pain and muscle damage, superior recovery and muscle performance and improved gastrointestinal function. The review concluded that curcumin supplementation appears to be safe and beneficial for sport and exercise in humans. Read Review
Our supplement Natruflex Turmeric contains 800mg turmeric extract (curcuminoids) per 2 capsules.
It is combined with black pepper for better absorption and naturally sourced marine magnesium, which further supports nerve function.
Taking curcumin is much gentler on the body than taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, which can cause adverse effects such as heartburn and stomach ulcers.
If you’re looking to further enhance your stamina and exercise performance:
- Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet. These tiny seeds are super packed with protein, omega 3 and omega 6 oils, calcium, iron, zinc and rich in antioxidants. When mixed with water and allowed to soak, these seeds release a form of gelled water that hydrates more slowly and effectively than just drinking liquid alone.
The Aztecs so treasured chia that they used to gift it to their king in homage and Aztec runners used to chew on the seeds as they went into battle.
Chris McDougall’s book “Born to Run” describes how the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons – known to be ultra-runners, running hundreds of miles without rest and enjoying every mile of it, fuelled themselves with a beverage containing chia seeds called ‘Iskiate’ and you can add a Natruflex Turmeric opened capsule an you have the perfect natural drink for recovery and fuel.
When gut health is good, you’ll feel balanced – when it’s off, you may experience a variety of symptoms and this imbalance can also affect your emotional health, your immune system and skin health.
Signs you could benefit from taking a probiotic?
- You’ve taken a course of antibiotics
- You eat a lot of refined sugar
- You’ve taken a course of antacid medfication
- You experience bloating
- You have a lot of gas
- You suffer from loose stools/diarrhoea
- You regularly get constipated
- You have skin issues triggered by certain foods
50% of our stools are actually bacteria that have been living in your gut – therefore these bacteria need replacing everyday.
So how can we replace these wonderful hard working bugs?
- Plant-based fibre - helps our gut bugs thrive aim for ideally around 30g per day, ensuring vegetables and fruits of all the colours of the rainbow are included in a week.
- Fermented foods can boost the number of friendly bacteria in your gut, Kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles (in salty brine), tempeh, natto, unsweetened yoghurt
- Prebiotics : these are like fertiliser for our new and current gut flora and include:
- Baobab fruit
- Moringa leaf
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Garlic, Onions, Leeks
- Barley, Oats
- Apples (with the skins)
- Dark chocolate
- Flaxseeds (also known as linseeds)
- Potatoes/pasta that have been cooked the day before and left in the fridge overnight
Why taking a probiotic could help?
Our GUT LOVE is a great multi-strain probiotic that can be taken daily, containing 19 different strains of live bacteria to help replenish your gut flora with a variety of strains.
Intuitively, we understand that we feel better in nature.
Research has shown that a specific way of spending time in nature, called forest bathing, has immense benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing.
What is forest bathing?
Nature provides many opportunities to help us be mindful and present.
What can we see? Notice the many shades of green and fractal patterns of leaves and branches.
What do we hear? Notice the orchestra created by the wind and leaves, the songs of birds or the crunching of frost beneath our feet.
What do we smell? Notice the various scents of pine, the earthiness of fungi or the memory-evoking smell of soil.
What do we feel? Notice the softness of moss with our hands, the tickling of the pine on our cheeks or the coolness of the wind on our skin.
And finally, what do we taste? We can sometimes taste the air or finish a forest bathing session with a taste of the woodland, such as with pine needle tea.
What are the origins of forest bathing?
Forest Bathing is known in Japan as shinrin yoku and was started in the 1980s when many Japanese people showed signs of being stressed and overworked due to what was called “technostress”.
As Japanese society became more reliant on technology, people were further removed from nature. Something needed to be done. With tree coverage of 67% and a culture that pays reverence to nature, Japan naturally looked to the forests. Forest bathing was born.
In 2004, Japanese government-funded research began to look into forest bathing and the results were impressive.
Research has continued and these studies showed that forest bathing has the potential to:
- Improve weakened immunity, with an increase in natural killer (NK) cells, white blood cells that attack tumours and infection
- Significantly decreased levels of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline
- Reduce blood pressure
- Increase heart rate variability (HRV – an indicator of being in your parasympathetic nervous system state)
- Decrease blood sugar levels
- Increase anti-cancer proteins perforin, granzyme A and granulysin
- Increase hours of sleep
- Improve concentration and memory
- Improve levels of feeling of wellbeing
Benefits arise from two factors.
The first source of the benefits of forest bathing are phytoncides.
Walking in the forest exposes us to the forest’s natural aromatherapy. Phytoncides are the natural oils within plants and are part of a tree’s defence system, protecting it from pests and diseases. These same phytoncides are partly responsible for the benefits. The main components of phytoncides are terpenes, which include D-limonene (smells lemony), Alpha-pinene (has a fresh, piney scent), Beta-pinene (smells herby, like basil or dill) and Camphene (smells of turpentine, a resinous smell)
The second source of the benefits of forest bathing are mindfulness and meditation.
Mindfulness and meditation helps us switch from our sympathetic nervous system, or ‘fight and flight’, to our parasympathetic nervous system, or ‘rest and digest’. If you already practice mindfulness and meditation, you will know that the key to calming the mind down is to focus on your breath. However, it can sometimes be difficult just to focus on the breath. Nature provides many subjects for us comfortably and happily to focus on and helps us “be in the present”. Remember the sight, sound, smell, feel and taste sensory exercises I introduced earlier? They help us re-connect with nature. After all, humans have spent 99.9% of time in history in a natural (rather than urban) environment making nature a place where humans instinctively feel relaxed and comfortable.
So next time you are in the forest or woodland, see if you can slow down your walking pace and take time to notice what is around you.
Or to slow down fully, let a forest bathing guide help you do the thinking. Two to three hours of forest bathing every four weeks replenishes the benefits of forest bathing.
There are many places you can practice forest bathing.
Forestry England is one source that shares locations of woodlands near you. The National Trust has a wealth of locations to forest bathe. If you are near the Surrey Hills, Hinoki Forest Bathing provides guided forest bathing sessions, including sunrise and sunset sessions, that finish with a Japanese influenced woodland tea ceremony.
Let nature replenish and care for you and in turn be inspired to care for nature.
By Lisa Duncan, HINOKI Forest Bathing in the Surrey Hills