Nutrition

Ruthless Performer Q&A – Elite Sports Nutrition with Jesse Rodriguez R.D.

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Today’s Q&A guest is our own sports nutritionist Jesse Rodriguez. Jesse has his own prolific history as a national-level swimmer for El Salvador and here in the United States competing in college and post-graduate for the University of Southern California. This all makes Jesse a world-class resource as not many people have competed at this level at any sport. With this background, plus his vast time spent in academia studying nutrition, interning with top sports teams, and the clinical work necessary for his Registered Dietitian status, we’re glad to have him on-board.

1. There are lots of people working with nutrition in some capacity, what sets you apart?

Firstly, I’m a licensed registered dietitian which means I went though extensive schooling and professional training. Secondly, I was an athlete for the majority of my life and I began studying/applying nutrition since I was 16. Lastly, I continue to read and study a lot! Mostly on clinical, biochemistry and sports nutrition research articles. Overall, I’ve been in this game for a long time and still aiming to be well-rounded in all elements of nutrition. (Editor’s Note: You read more about the difference between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian here) 

2. Given your personal and prolific history as a swimmer, you’re uniquely qualified to critique high-level sports nutrition, particularly in swimming. What are athletes doing right with their diet? What are they doing wrong?

Nutrition in sports has gained more popularity over the years and many athletes found the benefits of fueling appropriately. I’ve noticed that more athletes know about nutrient timing, and the importance of including carbs as fuel and protein for recovery. I think that many athletes know how to fuel around training times but during other times (i.e. dinner at home or restaurant), they tend to lack in nutritional knowledge. A lot of athletes still eat junk food throughout the day, maybe because they feel they can get away with it or something, but that’s our job as sports dietitians to correct. Additionally, building the appropriate plate according to their goals (i.e. body composition, better recovery) seems to be a problem along with maintaining hydration. Here’s an article I’ve written on RuthlessPerformance.com on this is. 

3. Supplement must-do’s… What supplements (if any) are generally worth taking? What supplements are a scam?

Supplements for athletes typically aren’t necessary since athletes are eating more than the general population but it all depends on the athlete. Supplements would be necessary if an athlete is deficient in a nutrient like Iron or Vitamin D. Athletes following special diets like the vegan diet may need to supplement as well. As far as supplements for performance, the most studied and useful would be: Caffeine, Creatine, Beta-Alanine, Nitrates, and Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda). It’s hard to say which supplements are a scam because they’re so many in the market and it can vary due to individual responses to them. With that being said, it’s important to make sure if you’re going to take supplements, that they’re 3rd party certified by organizations like the NSF.

4. You’ve gone pretty far in your journey through academia… With the emphasis of studies, objectivity, and research in academia there is still surprisingly lots of room for subjectivity and interpretations of results and outcomes. What are your thoughts on this? What can be done to fix or improve nutrition science?

Correct, I think there is always room for development in the field so it’s my job to follow along and stay up to date with the latest research. This for me is actually fun because I enjoy reading research papers and learning to new things. The science of nutrition can be very complex and as of now, I don’t have any solutions. I think that the correct messages (evidence-based results) need to be sent out to the general public so myths can be debunked. It’s more about nutrition education than anything at the moment.

5. From a more general standpoint, the headlines regarding nutrition are changing on a damn near daily basis. What elements of sports nutrition do you think are firmly established? What rules of nutrition have outlasted the scandalous and salacious headlines?

Hydration, nutrient timing, and recovery nutrition seems to be the foundation. There will always be a new thing that comes out, but those three are firmly established. Individualized nutrition is fundamental in sports nutrition and I think that will outlast any headline or diet (i.e keto diet, intermittent fasting, etc). I also think that sticking to the basics, such as nutrition from food rather than living off smoothies and supplements for example, will always have the edge. Of course, going back to supplements, this will depend on the individual’s status.

6. Where does sports nutrition go from here? What do you think we’ll be seeing in the coming years regarding nutrition? Gut health seems to be a hot topic as of late, what are your opinions on this? What should nutrition scientists place more emphasis on?

The basics of sports nutrition will remain the same and to be honest, I don’t see anything revolutionary coming soon. However, they’re new things coming along such as nutrigenomics and the importance of gut health, antioxidants, and periodizing nutrition which looks promising. Gut health has been popular lately and for good reason.  Because of the gut and brain connection, I feel it’s important to treat your gut right just like most want to treat their blood sugar levels right. I think emphasis should be placed on education and sending the correct messages to athletes and the public. Researchers are doing a great job in nutritional science but there hasn’t been anything lately that can change the whole world of nutrition and its effect on humanity. If we can do this, that will be the next revolutionary thing.

 

**Editor’s Note: Jesse will also be featured on ‘Healthy Habits with Dr. T’ on Wednesday, Oct. 17th at 7:00 PM EST, we’ll post all of the details for event pre-registration and where to view it on our Twitter and Instagram.**

 

Want to learn more about Jesse or our various nutritional programs and consultations? Fill out the form below to get started!

 

Ruthless Performer Q&A – Functional Medicine with Dr. Touchinsky

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This post marks the first in our new Ruthless Perfomer Q&A series. Throughout this series we’ll be talking with various health and fitness influencers regarding their specific niche and how it effects the world of health and wellnessa at-large.

Today we’re joined by Dr. Touchinsky who established Blue Mountain Family Chiropractic in 2005. His early focus was helping people suffering with pain and injuries utilizing hands on chiropractic care. Within the first few years of practice, he realized that many of the cases seen required more than just physical treatment. People were dealing with issues caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and other lifestyle related factors. However, due to a variety of reasons, none of their health care providers were addressing these issues. This lead Dr. Touchinsky to study and become certified in Functional Medicine.

What is Functional Medicine and why is this something you’re so engaged in?

Conventional medicine usually seeks to identify a problem, an injury, or an illness.  Diagnosis and treatment of that diagnosis is their forte. They are the doctors of “what”.  They want to know what is wrong with you, and then they apply the treatment designed for that problem.

The best way to describe functional medicine practitioners is we are the doctors of “why”.  Why are you sick? Why do you have an autoimmune disease? Why do you have chronic fatigue?  This “why” can vary… it may be poor gut health due to frequent use of antibiotics in the past, or nutrient deficiencies due to an inadequate diet, or excessive stress from work, overtraining in the gym, or lack of proper sleep and recovery.  The “why” can vary from person to person so we look at each individual’s “why” so we can develop a plan for that person and not their disease.

Teach us something… What is something within health that you think many physically active, healthy individuals may be ignorant to (i.e. I am always sure to teach clients about the relationship between the lymphatic and muscular system)?

Gut health is supreme.  “You are what you eat” is a common saying.  However, it’s not that simple. It’s what we eat, digest, assimilate, and excrete.  Our digestive system helps manage what our body takes in to help build muscle, health and repair all sorts of tissues including our vital organs, make neurochemical and hormones, etc.  It also helps us get rid of the toxic by products of doing all of that. It’s both the fuel injector system and the exhaust system. If the gut is chronically inflamed it’s going to affect nutrient absorption. If there’s constipation, it’s like plugging up the exhaust pipe in your car or the chimney in your house.  This affects health more than most people realize.

If you doubt that or this is a new concept to you, google “gut” and <insert health problem or disease name here> and take a look at what shows  up.

What do you think is the easiest thing individuals already engaged in a fitness program can change about their daily routine to further improve their health?

Most people can benefit from eating less meals per day and eating within a 12 hour time period per day, with earlier being better.  An example might be at 7am, 11am-1pm, and 5pm-7pm. Eating food disrupts normal equilibrium and places the body under stress. It’s a necessary function, but triggering that stress every few hours is not good. It’s beneficial to give the body plenty of time between our meals and then one long period per day of 12 hrs or more.   There even some interesting research showing that more than 12 hours can be even more of an advantage. This is called intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding. This can be taken even a step further by doing full water fasting or a Fasting Mimicking Diet on occasion. For more information on that, search for fasting and Dr. Valter Longo.  

As someone within the field, what do you think about the current state of chiropractic care? What are some common myths or concerns that you come across regularly? Are these concerns warranted?

Chiropractors practice methods that are the most effective means of addressing muscle, joint, and many nerve issues in my opinion.  We have extensive training and spend our career seeing people with injuries and pain. Not only are we trained in treating these issues, but diagnosing them as well. This makes us a great first option when someone has something wrong.  If it turns out it’s a more serious issue that requires a surgeon, or if there’s doubt and more testing needs to be done, we can refer or order testing such as blood tests, MRIs, and CT scans. Most of the time we can start treating immediately and begin providing patients relief on day one.

Some common myths that I see are we only treat the spine.  That might be how we got our start over 100 years ago, but we now are trained on evaluating and treating a wide variety of issues.  We’re not just “bone setters” either. I work just as much on the muscles as I do the bones and joints. Another common myth is that once you start going, you have to keep on going.  There may be some cases of permanent injuries or those that have very demanding jobs where it makes sense to see someone once every few months to keep them in good shape, but in most cases my goal is to get the person out of pain, show them what they can do for themselves to prevent the problem from recurring, and then discharge them from care.

Most forward-thinking individuals working in healthcare admit it’s a rather flawed system. What do you think is the most troubling aspect of modern healthcare in America? What do you think is the easiest problem within healthcare to fix?

It’s a very flawed system.  Health insurance dictates care and most providers end up treating to the insurance.  Insurance payment to providers is based on what is done to a patient. It’s procedural based.  That means that the more “stuff” that we do to patients, the more we bill, and the more we get paid. If you do less “stuff”, you get less payment.  This only promotes overutilization of certain services. Additionally, an officer visit where your doctor diagnoses a common cold gets paid the same as a visit where they diagnose and (attempts to) manage diabetes.  The latter is way more complicated and requires much more attention and expertise to handle. I could really go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that.

pasted image 0The easiest problem to fix is to take away the middleman. Take away insurance.  That sounds horrible because it’s the only way most people can afford to see a doctor, but by taking away the middle man we would lower the costs for everyone.  If people had to pay for everything out of pocket (at least up front), then they would help, along with the doctor, if a procedure or test is really necessary. If you doubt this, ask any provider, “do you tend to order more testing on people with or without insurance?”   For those that truly can’t afford care, we can take the money we use to subsidize health insurance and set up free and reduced clinics. At least this would put money directly into communities and building facilities and paying providers, vs. sitting in the coffers of insurance companies to selectively dole out as they wish.

blue mountain family chiropractic

 

**Editor’s Note: John Matulevich of Ruthless Performance will be appearing on Dr. Touchinsky’s Podcast “Healthy Habits with Dr. T” this wednesday night. You can preregister to listen to the podcast at the address here or watch it live on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/doctortouchinsky/ **

Building a plate

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HEPApr2013Making small changes will lead to bigger results. Start off with behavioral changes before jumping on to the new diet out there. This means things like eating on a smaller plate, removing the salt from the table, reducing serving sizes, etc.

myplate_blueIn general, a “healthy” or “healthier” plate should include a protein, whole grain, complex carbs (veggies/fruit), healthy fat (olive oil or avocado), and hydration (milk/water). USDA has come up with an image of what a healthy plate should look like. This is very general since protein can be a hot dog, or whole milk as dairy, which contains a lot of fat.

Harvard health dissected the USDA plate and made a detailed version. They included healthy fat, along with extra details, which is important to our health. Read our “Why do we need fats in our diet?” 

download

Both plates are for the general public and used for weight maintenance. For athletes and those looking for a specific body composition goal (weight loss, weight gain, etc.) building a plate becomes more tailored to this individuals’ goals. The healthy plate provides a foundation of what should be on a plate, but macro-nutrient distribution would be manipulated according to the individual’s needs. US Olympic Committee has made three fuel plates that targeted for the athlete’s training. Still not very specific because everyone is different but effective.

If you’re looking to make nutrition changes in your life, start with small modifications then gradually transition into a detailed plan.

By Jesse Rodriguez, RD, CSCS

 

If you’re interested to find out an individualized nutrition plan just for you, contact info@ruthlessperformance for our nutrition services.

 

 

Does Caffeine Have Any Effect On Resistance Exercise?

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Many gym-goers are looking for ways to get more work in during their training sessions. Some turn to pre-workout supplements while others may turn to steroid-related drugs. Although pre-workout supplements contain caffeine, it’s also filled with unnecessary and potentially dangerous substances.

Caffeine on resistance training has been long looked at with supportive research data on its effect. Caffeine’s major effect for training is that it reduces pain perception, potentially delaying fatigue during exercise.  Additionally, caffeine may also reduce RPE (rate of perceived exertion) which may extend duration and/or intensity of workouts.

Sources could come as either coffee or caffeine powder/pills. The most important information to know is that 3-6mg/kg may be the optimal range to see effects or a dose of approximately 200mg 1 hour before exercise. 2-3 cups of coffee may be the optimal dose; however, caffeine content depends on the type of coffee and if any espresso shots are added. Experiment with doses and types and find the right amount to see individualized results.

six white ceramic mugs

Anne, M. (2018, May 16). How Many Milligrams of Caffeine Are in a Cup of Coffee? Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/260763-how-many-milligrams-of-caffeine-are-in-a-cup-of-coffee/

Diego B. Souza, Michael Duncan, and Marcos D. Polito. Acute Caffeine Intake Improves Lower Body Resistance Exercise Performance with Blood Flow Restriction. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 0 0:0, 1-22

Michael J. Duncan, Michelle Stanley, Natalie Parkhouse, Kathryn Cook, Mike Smith. Acute caffeine ingestion enhances strength performance and reduces perceived exertion and muscle pain perception during resistance exercise. Eur J Sport Sci. 2013; 13(4): 392–399. Published online 2011 Dec 5. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2011.635811

Wolde, Tsedeke. (2014). Effects of caffeine on health and nutrition: A Review. 30.

By Jesse Rodriguez, RD, CSCS

A Comparison Of Several Sports Drinks

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Electrolytes consist of sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Workouts lasting less than 1 hour typically only need to re-hydrate with water but for workouts >1 hour, require liquids with a combination of carbohydrates and electrolytes.  Electrolytes are needed because they are, along with water, are lost through sweat which is the bodies primary way of preventing excessive rises in body temperature aka hyperthermia, especially in the heat. Performance is impaired when approximately 2% of body weight is dehydrated.

Many electrolyte products are out there in market. There is no absolute best one, but some may be better than others. This may also depend on the individual and their response to them. Scratch labs sells hydration mixes to be made into a sports drink. Then there are the traditional sports drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde. What makes these drinks different? Let’s take a look…

 

Drink

Calories Carbs (g) Sodium (mg)  Potassium (mg) Other
Scratch labs

Hydration Mix 1 scoop

80 21 380

39

Calcium & magnesium
Gatorade

1 bottle (591mL)

150 38 250 65 Citric acid & gum
PowerAde

1 bottle (360mL)

80 21 150 35 High fructose corn syrup, & B-vitamins
The Right Stuff

1 pouch

0 0 1780 0

Chloride & Citrate

PowerAde and Gatorade contain a lot of added sugars with artificial colors as well. The problem is that too much added carbs decreases the amount of water that can be absorbed (Jeukendrup & Gleeson, 2004). Only small amounts of glucose and sodium are needed so that water absorption rate increases. The right stuff is primarily electrolyte containing with no energy (calories) and carbs however, it can be mixed with a carb containing drink thus increasing carbs and/or electrolytes which may slow absorption of water. Scratch labs hydration mix is similar to PowerAde as far as electrolyte content. Scratch labs hydration mix can also be mixed with a carb liquid but the mix alone may just be sufficient. Overall, Scratch labs seems like it has a good mix to be used during and after exercise lasting more than 1 hour.scratch

Jeukendrup, Asker & Gleeson, Michael. Sports Nutrition. An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance. 2004.

Gropper, Sareen S., Smith, L. Jack., & Carr, Timothy P. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Seventh edition. 2016.

By Jesse Rodriguez, RD, CSCS

 

 

 

 

What is the Difference Between a Nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian?

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Registered Dietitians are licensed nutritional professionals with an undergraduate degree and supervised practice hours. Among completion, a national exam must be taken to be officially licensed and practice as a professional. Registered dietitians are recognized by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics with mandatory completion of CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to maintain registration.

adult agriculture asian commerce

The term “Nutritionist” does not require extensive school and professional training. Essentially, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist because they read a few books. That is not to say nutritionist don’t know what they’re talking about but nutritionists can’t assess, diagnosis, or treat nutritional-related problems where as a Registered Dietitian can.
At Ruthless performance, we offer nutritional services by a Licensed Registered Dietitian.

It’s simple: All Dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are Dietitians.

 

 

By Jesse Rodriguez, RD, CSCS

Ruthless Performance Guide to Mineral Supplementation

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Previously, we talked about the importance and effect of vitamins in performance. We now move on to minerals. Fundamentally, minerals are broken into different categories based on their function; Major, Trace and Ultra-trace minerals. Despite the fact that minerals only contribute only about ~4% of total body weight, their functions are vital for cellular activity, energy metabolism, osmotic properties of body fluids and contribution to teeth and bones.

IMG_0797
This mineral supplement is a Ruthless Performance favorite and available for sale at Healthy Habits Natural Market in Orwigsburg, PA.

The major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride. Major minerals are found in greater amounts in the body requiring ~100mg/day by adults. Moreover, sodium, chloride, and potassium are the minerals that regulate electrolyte balance.

Trace minerals are called trace because they needed by small amounts in the body, less than 100mg/day. In addition, if amounts required are less than 1mg/day, they are called Ultra-trace minerals. Trace minerals include Iron, Zinc, Copper, Fluoride, and Manganese while Ultra-trace minerals include Selenium, Iodine, Molybdenum and Chromium.

*Note other Trace and Ultra-trace minerals will not be discussed because not much is known about the need for them by the body.

Discussed will be the most common minerals utilized in athletic performance. Minerals in the body act as cofactors which are need during metabolism and for other bodily functions such transport of molecules. Some minerals are useful during performance while the rest are needed for overall health, but make no mistake, their role in the body is crucial for all of us. The chart below outlines common minerals used for performance, and its major function, role, etc.

Mineral Chart

 

In summary, chromium and zinc are the two most important minerals in glucose metabolism therefore making these minerals essential in our diets, especially in athletes. Magnesium is of importance because of its function in protein and fatty acid synthesis and 300 other enzymatic reactions. However, too much intake of magnesium will decrease absorption of phosphorus, an essential mineral. The electrolytes are obviously crucial in athletic performance so adequate amounts must be consumed pre, during, and post-workouts. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, then mineral supplementation may not be necessary but a waste of money. For example, like mentioned above, if you supplement with magnesium in large doses (>600mg) then absorption of phosphorus declines about 50%. Furthermore, your body may not absorb all the mineral content so it’s just gets urinated along with your money. Another example would be too much Zinc causing a deficiency in copper or iron, both important for our health. Eat a well-balanced diet and keep training hard.

IMG_0799

Gropper S. Sareen, Smith L. Jack, Carr P. Timothy. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 7th Edition. 2016

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

 

A Quick Guide to Hydration for Performance

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The weather is warming up which means dehydration sets in faster. Dehydration has major effects on the body such as electrolyte imbalances, cramping, headaches, and reduced athletic performance, potentially leading to heat stroke and even death. Dehydration varies widely amongst individuals based on their hydration status prior to training, practice gear body composition, type of training, and an individual’s heat acclimation.  Therefore, rehydration should be tailored to one’s specific hydration status either pre, during, or post-workout. If you’re feeling bold, here is a formula from the NSCA to determine your sweat rate:

 

  • Step 1. Weigh yourself naked before exercise (e.g., 180 lb).
  • Step 2. Exercise for 1 hour (drink normally during exercise but avoid eating) and track your fluid intake (e.g., 4 oz)
  • Step 3. Weigh yourself naked post-exercise (e.g., 178.5 lb).
  • Step 4. To calculate your sweat rate simply subtract your post-exercise weight from your pre-exercise weight then add the weight/volume of any fluids you consumed.

 

Example

180 lb (pre-exercise) – 178.5 lb (post-exercise) = 1.5 lb (sweat loss) + 4 oz (fluids consumed during exercise) (0.25 lb) = 1.75 lb of sweat lost per hour

 

Knowing your sweat loss can give you an idea how much water should be replaced but most importantly it can be indicator of heat acclimation. Training in hot environments can lead to adaptation thus potentially resulting in a decline in sweat loss. A simple and effective way to check to hydration status is by the color of urine. An easy way to remember is by distinguishing two colors; Apple juice color (urine) = dehydrated, Lemonade color (urine) = hydrated.

 

Here some general quick tips for proper hydration:

 

  • Before workout, check the color of urine. If dehydrated drink, until the color of Hydration Statusurine looks like lemonade.
  • If workouts are less than 1hr, water is sufficient. Recommendations are 3–8 oz. every 15–20 minutes (a gulp is about 1–2 oz.)
  • If workouts are more than 1hr, you should drink liquids with the combination of carbs + electrolytes, 3-8 oz. every 15-20 minutes.
    • Note: Fluids may vary depending on intensity of temperature, altitude, and/or humidity.
  • After workouts, weigh yourself and for every 1lb lost, rehydrate with 16-24 oz. of water.
  • More than a 2% weight loss post workout indicates dehydration so replenish soon.
  • Its key to make sure you are replacing not only water, but sodium from sweat loss.
  • Its recommended to rehydrate with a carb + electrolyte drink.
  • Continue to check hydration status with the color of your urine.

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Nina S. Stachenfeld, PhD. Assessing hydration in the laboratory and field. February 2013. http://www.gssiweb.org/en/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-111-assessing-hydration-in-the-laboratory-and-field#articleTopic_1
https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/trainer-tips/hydration/
https://www.hprc-online.org/articles/hydration-basics

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto

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**Editor’s Note: In a previous post, the various benefits of adding mushrooms to your diet was discussed. Find more here about what mushrooms can do for your immune, digestive, and cognitive function.**

 

Mushroom Risotto

Prep Time – 10 minutes. Cook Time – 25 minutes. Total Time – 35 minutes.

Vegetarian dish. Makes 6 servings.

mushroom dish

  • 1 lb Mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp choice of Parsley or Chives, chopped.
  • 2 Shallots, roughly diced
  • 6 cups Bone broth
  • 1 ½ cup Arborio rice
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp Kerrygold Butter
  • Parmesan cheese to taste
  • 1 tbsp Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Directions

  • In a saucepan, warm the broth over medium heat.
  • Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet to high heat. Add mushrooms to dry skillet and stir as the mushrooms release their juices. Turn heat to medium-high and continue to stir until juice starts to be absorbed and mushrooms are browned.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt and continue cooking until the rest of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove mushrooms and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Stir in the shallots. Cook about 1 minute or until shallots begin to soften. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.
  • Return heat to medium-high and using a mug or measuring cup add between ½-3/4 cup broth to the rice (I added ¾ cup), and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding the hot broth one scoopful at a time, stirring continuously, making sure the liquid becomes absorbed before adding more broth. When you’ve got almost all the broth added, begin turning the heat down to medium if necessary. After about 20 minutes or so, the rice will be al dente.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. (At this point, if you want a vegan meal, this is done and perfectly tasty.)
  • Add the butter, parsley or chives and parmesan.

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function

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Adaptogens are phytonutrients that have the ability to help your body adapt under physiological stress. These phytonutrients are herbs that contain phytochemicals. Adaptogens can also be defined as a pharmacotherapeutic group of herbal preparations used to increase attention and endurance during fatigue. Furthermore they can help to prevent, mitigate or reduce stress induced impairments and disorders related to neuroendocrine and immune systems (Bagchi, et. al., 2013)

Stress, especially chronic stress, is associated with increased inflammation, and other body responses, all of which are adversely related to cellular aging. Mushrooms have been studied numerous times for their adaptogenic abilities during times of stress and immune system stimulation. Mushrooms have a long history of treatment for a number of ailments. The benefits are endless but as adaptogens, they help the body maintain proper balance. This may help those who are in a high stress environment or facing other complications such as sleep deprivation or fatigue. Mushrooms come in many forms but some of the most beneficial ones are: Reishi, Shitake, Moral, Maca and Cordyceps.

  1. Reishi, Shitake

Reishi is known for its immune stimulating properties by way of increasing production of leukocytes (white blood cells), thus strengthening the immune system. Reishi is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which promote longevity and resilience. In addition to that, other benefits include reducing viral infections and anxiety. Shitake have some similar benefits to reishi that enhance immunity and slow aging; it is also an excellent source of Vitamin D2 and has capabilities to adapt to stress form work or other daily life activities.

  1. Maca

Maca is one of the most powerful mushroom types because of its proven health benefits. This adaptogen contains phytochemical power to help relieve anxiety and tension. Maca is also a great source of calcium, vitamin C, amino acids, and healthy fats. It is typically sold in powder form, and can be easily added as a topping to yogurt and smoothies. Maca greatly benefits those who are lacking sleep and is very accessible for those looking to add into their diet.

  1. Cordyceps

Cordyceps are considered one of the best herbs for their ability to regulate homeostasis. This herb dates back to old Chinese history, where it was commonly eaten with soups. It’s most known for its antioxidant effects, reducing infections, fighting off stress, and increasing energy levels. Some studies have shown that it can prevent the growth of tumors in addition to reducing fatigue. (Zhen-yuan, et. al., 2012)

  1. Morel

Morel is widely hunted for because of its excellent taste. Similar to reishi, morels have a significant content of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which support the immune system. Moreover, morels have been shown to benefit respiratory function and promote a healthy GI tract. Additionally, they also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Those are in a high stress environment should consider adding morel to reduce cortisol levels (stress) and increase overall health benefits.

With the addition of proper sleep, exercise, stress-reducing techniques, and a balanced diet, we can optimize the quality of our life. Cordyceps as mentioned earlier can be advantageous for athletes. Supplement forms of different types of mushrooms are available. Furthermore, Laird Superfood has a mushroom blend in capsules and other forms of mushroom supplements for easy access.

In sports performance, athletes deal with physiological and physiological stress every day. Minimizing this can help improve performance.  A recent study has shown that adaptogens taken 1 hour prior to endurance exercise may increase lipolysis (breakdown of fat), reduce heart rate, reduce lactate concentration while maintaining good health (Wong, Bandyopadhyay, & Chen, 2011). These powerful phytonutrients are able capable of helping your body adapt to increased stress and reduce mental and physical fatigue. According to the University of Michigan Health Library, Cordyceps dosage of 3 to 9 grams taken twice daily as a liquid extract, as food, or as powdered extract, may support sports performance.

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.