Nutrition, Gut Bugs, and the Spinal Cord

Our digestive system may have a much larger role than we previously thought. More research is coming out about the ‘gut-brain axis’ where our digestive system and brain communicate with one another. The star players seem to be the microbiota (gut bacteria) that populate our large intestines and have the ability to influence various aspects of our physiology:


Now research seems to indicate that microbiota may help in spinal cord injury recovery. An article on Medical News Today suggests that they can affect inflammation and help quicken recovery. Although I honestly hope none of you had a spinal cord injury, this may mean that our nutrition may affect inflammation levels via the microbiota. This can affect many disease states associated with inflammation as well as recovery from training. However, please note that they mention that this was examined in mice so we can’t be extrapolating too much too soon, but it’s still pretty cool.

Intermittent Fasting and Strength Training

Fast for 16 hours, eat your meals in the 8 hour window, and lift 3 days a week for better body composition. I would go on but StrengTheory did an amazing job with their article investigating the new intermittent fasting study that came out. In the end, overall calories matter with meal frequency (in this case skipping a meal via intermittent fasting) playing a much smaller role.

Food Combining

You may have come across articles while surfing on the waves of the internet regarding ‘food combining’ which state that you shouldn’t combine certain foods. Is this true? No, but as the authors of ‘Does Food Combining Work? Fact or Fiction’ at Authority Nutrition state, “If you feel that the rules of food combining work for you, then you should certainly continue with it. If your diet isn’t broken, then there’s no need to fix it.” Food combining can actually be helpful in some situations with adding a fat source to your veggies aiding in absorption of some vitamins. However, this is one caveat. Do not mix soda and mentos for consumption.



Structuring your strength workout

If you go on an internet forum, they’ll tell you to squat, deadlift, and bench press. If you don’t, they’ll call you a bad name which will make you sad :(. Those exercises are excellent, but you do not NEED to do them. There are variations that may better suit your goals: goblet squat, front squat, dumbbell bench press, trap bar deadlift, etc. However, picking exercises may be tough once you examine all the choices. In this case, wrote a great guide to help you out.

The only thing I would add to the article: When starting out with a new exercise, ensure that you feel tension in the correct muscles. Once you get the right muscles working, then focus on adding weight, reps, or sets.

The biggest issue with nutrition that no one talks about (in my opinion)

If I had to guess, I would say that stress eating is quite prevalent in today’s society. Many of us find comfort in food and turn to it during times of stress. You may go on this diet or that diet but if you don’t adjust your stress-coping then you may stuck in an endless cycle. You may go on a diet, lose body fat, then gain it all back in a week. I think it’s best if we all examine our stress-coping strategies and see if we turn to food to for stress relief. You may realize that you do and it may be why you have an incredibly hard time losing weight while your friend stays lean with no issues. There are obviously several other factors in play but I believe this is one aspect not spoken enough about. does a good job on elaborating and giving a few case-situations regarding this topic. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Peer Pressure

Our physical and social environments shape our behavior. If your gym clothes are laid out and everything is ready to go in the morning, you will go to the gym. If your friends all workout and eat healthy, you will train and eat healthy too.

Justin Kompf writes about how peer pressure influences us to conform to our environment in the article: “How to Help Your Clients Make Healthy Choices In Any Social Situation”. Although it’s aimed at coaches, many can benefit from the actions Justin recommends.