I Guess We Need Fats

A week ago I met with my nutritionist. She has been helping me figure out ways to deal with my GI issues. As per usual, we reviewed my stats, what I've been eating for the past month and how I've been feeling. I told her that I've been sticking to the blandest diet ever. I've pretty much determined that fats are the primary cause of the GI issues so I've eliminated it from my diet. This includes, but is not limited to:

- Nuts - Dairy (including yogurt and cheese) - Salmon (an oily fish) - Almond Butter (my true love) - Oils (including olive oil - yes I am eating plain pasta. As in no oils, no sauce - nothing.)

I've also all but eliminated whole-wheat (I'm indulging in regular white pasta and breads) as well as fresh produce, instead eating canned fruits and cooked vegetables. Eating out has been dwindled down to Chipotle burrito bowls (just rice, chicken and mild salsa) and sushi.

While Danielle (my nutritionist) was happy to hear that I've identified the cause of the GI distress, she wasn't all that happy to hear how drastically I've cut out fat. She urged me to slowly start introducing a little fat back into by diet and suggested I start with just a little nuts and peanut butter (or in my case, almond butter). She also thinks that I need more fiber and suggested that I try to eat at least 1 piece of fresh fruit a day (apples since they're in season right now) and perhaps sweet potato, just without the skin.

While I understood what she was saying and why she was saying it, I was still a little resistant to listen to her because with 4 1/2 weeks left until race day, now is not the time that I want to be having GI issues flare up again. So between last Friday (when we met) and this past Tuesday, I didn't make any attempt to try her suggestions. Then I saw Dr. Eva, my chiropractor on Tuesday. One of the reasons I love Dr. Eva is that she is a marathoner and always offers me great pieces of advice and suggestions on new places to run.

When I walked into her office the first thing she said to me was, "It's only been 4 weeks since I last saw you and you have lost a lot of weight." Uhh, I knew I lost some weight, but I didn't think it was a lot and it was unintentional. She wanted to know what was going on so I recapped the same update I gave Danielle, blah, blah, blah. She gave me the exact same piece of advice as Danielle, including something Danielle mentioned about blood shunting which I didn't understand at all. I really wanted to understand what they both talked about so I emailed Dr. Eva after my appointment and asked her to explain it to me. She writes:

When the body exercises, the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) kicks in. The blood shunts away from our organs (stomach) and flows to our muscles. Then when we relax after a meal (food coma) the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and it closes the capillaries in our muscles and shunts the blood to our stomach to aid in digestion.

So essentially, when we're running, the blood leaves our stomach and flows to our muscles and extremities (hands and feet) leaving less blood to support digestion causing GI issues. She advised:

Try relaxing and enjoy your food coma after a meal to aid with digestion.

Why we should eat at least 2 hours before running.

She also wondered if my body might be lacking the bile that breaks down fat (she compared it to dish-washing soap breaking down oil). She suggested I try taking bile salts:

The bile salts will help with the digestion, but as a healthy individual you should not have to rely on them. My concern is, when you decrease your fat intake you also cut out health fats- Omega 3's. If you're expending so much energy and cutting these essential fatty acids from your diet, that's not a good thing.

Maybe this is why I've been so tired lately.

You can choose to take the bile salts and see how that works. If you don't like it, make sure to take Omega supplements. Omega 3's = good for you and good for reduced inflammation after exercise, minor injuries, faster healing.

Bottom Line:

After hearing from 2 health professionals I've put aside my stubborn ways. After seeing Dr Eva I've been eating kiwi and oranges (trying to fight off a cold) and have started putting (just a little) almond butter on my morning bagel. And so far, there hasn't been any GI issues on the 2 runs I've done this week so far. I haven't tried the Bile Salts yet (I will though) but I have started adding ground flaxseed (Omega 3 source) to my morning smoothie.

I'm running 19-miles tomorrow so we'll see how it goes. I'll report back next week.