What, exactly, are people trying to attain with ozone therapy, and does it actually work? This is a topic of great controversy.
Don’t confuse ozone with oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers, like the one Michael Jackson allegedly slept in, are normally used to treat decompression sickness and air embolisms. (Think “scuba divers”).
Then there’s the relatively new trend of using “recreational” oxygen – in Oxygen bars, spas and such. Advocates say oxygen can provide a boost before exercise, a quicker recovery afterward, relaxation after a stressful day, or mental clarity. Recreational oxygen is considered helpful for hangovers, headaches, and afternoon slumps.
Athletes often like it, and in fact, public records related to Tiger Woods’ new home in Jupiter, Florida, refer to an oxygen therapy room being built into his home gym. It’s easy to understand why athletes gravitate toward a health trend like simple oxygen. There are theories that recreational oxygen can also oxidize lactic acid (preventing sore muscles), reduce swelling and bruising, reduce pain from injuries, and speed up healing. That’s a pretty tempting list if you play sports.
Controlled research studies, however, have shown that many athletes aren’t actually able to distinguish the difference between pure oxygen and regular air. It’s only their belief that they can which convinces them they feel better after using oxygen.
Ozone, however, is made up of three molecules of oxygen (O3), is much less stable than O2, and is used for entirely different purposes. In contrast to hyperbaric oxygen and recreational oxygen, ozone therapy is used – by those who believe in it – to cleanse the skin and pores, and the lymphatic system; to naturally detoxify the body of bacteria, viruses and fungus; boost the immune system; oxygenate major organs and tissues; increase circulation of blood and oxygen delivery; and even stimulate an anti-cancer response in the body. Proponents also claim that ozone therapy is deeply relaxing.
Before you plunge headfirst into trying ozone therapy, however, you’ll need to do some homework and decide if you still feel gung-ho. Although it’s been used since the mid 1800s, there’s a lot of resistance to the practice within the medical community. Many medical experts feel that not only is it not helpful, but that ozone therapy could be dangerous if you have any underlying respiratory conditions.
When the body is infused with ozone gas, its molecules react with water in the blood. The resulting hydrogen peroxide is what supposedly neutralizes infections and bacteria. Many medical experts feel ozone gas can harm lung function and irritate the human respiratory system. This could be why the FDA states that ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application or preventive therapy.
Every authority has there own bias and the jury is still out on this controversial treatment. I personally know many individuals and athletes that have enjoyed benefits from ozone therapy with no negative side affects. You will have to be the judge on this one!
Most people hear the term “heavy metal” and think of the music a 19-year-old boy prefers. But in fact, there are 35 metals that cause concern, nutritionally, and 23 of these elements are the “heavy” metals, meaning they have at least five times the gravity of water.
Some of them, in small amounts, are an essential component of good nutritional health. Those metals called “the trace elements” – iron, copper, manganese, and zinc – naturally occur in our vegetables and fruit, and are always included in common multivitamins.
Zinc is widely marketed as a way to reduce the severity of a head cold, and you’ll find it in many a popular lozenge.
Here’s the weird part of the story though: while a few are beneficial in small quantities, many can do irreparable harm in large quantity.
Toxic doses of heavy metals can result in damage to one’s mental capacity, organs and nervous system.
Prolonged exposure to large amounts creates an even worse scenario: that of severe debilitation.
We’ve all heard the jokes about arsenic poisoning, but it’s no laughing matter if it gets into your system. We know that uranium kills, and we’re glued to shows like “24″ when uranium rods for nuclear reactors go missing.
Another well-known danger is mercury. Word is finally getting around about the danger of mercury fillings in our teeth, as well as that of mercury in fish; I’ve written a column on that very topic earlier this year (see my blog to read it).
In children, ingestion is the most common cause of toxicity; in adults, the culprit is environmental exposure. Toxicity occurs when the body doesn’t metabolize the heavy metal; instead, it builds up in soft tissues. Food, water and even air (fumes) can all be delivery vehicles.
The skin is another critical way these dangers can enter the body, and the manufacturing, agriculture, and pharmaceutical industries present more risk than others. But toxic heavy metals can be present in industrial and residential settings.
Testing for heavy metal toxicity starts with hair analysis. Once toxicity is established, a regimen of chelation therapy is begun, via drugs or intravenously. A high-fat diet during this time will facilitate the excretion of heavy metals. Symptoms will improve quite soon, but treatment can last up to two years.
Beware of detoxing with algae supplements like spirulina and chlorella, however; they work by absorbing heavy metals, so can backfire. Dr. Gary Pynckel in Fort Myers is a super resource, should you or someone you know need heavy metal therapy. Visit drpynckel.com for more information.
So how does one avoid excessive heavy metal intake?
Eating organic foods spares the body heavy metals used in farming and storage.
A high-fiber diet can also help. And amazingly, the herb cilantro – often used in Mexican food – has, in clinical trials and research, quickly moved toxic metals out of brain and spinal cord tissue.
Pass the guacamole.
Ever heard the term “Weekend Warriors?” These fun-loving, sports-minded folks work hard then occasionally decide to have some fun by participating in an activity that’s new (or old and dear). The problem is, their body isn’t conditioned through diet and exercise for what’s about to happen, and the result is often an injury … sometimes a bad injury.
Common catalysts for weekend warrior syndrome are spring thaw, reunions, holidays, turning 40, turning 50, New Year’s resolutions and your teen’s friends playing ball in the lot next door. There are abundant opportunities to “jump right in” and although your heart’s in the right place, you could pay a big price later.
I’ve fallen victim to this scenario myself. I work out on a regular basis and eat well, but recently I played a charity softball game, a sport that I used to play in my younger years … and I could not get out of bed on Monday. I also could not use my Blackberry because my hands hurt so bad.
Had I at least been doing some type of similar activity before that game, or stretching the body parts I knew I’d be using, I might have had a fighting chance. Changing from a flat gym floor to uneven earth or rolling trails or sloped beaches can also cause issues. Imagine what the 50th-birthday-but-20-mile-bike-ride might do to an office worker.
If we’re not used to using certain muscles, we make ourselves prime candidates for debilitating or highly irritating injuries. I was thinking about the various ways to keep the body prepared for the occasional odd activity, and came across a great quote on the Internet: “Men over 40 should be fit for their sport rather than using their sport to get fit,” it said. This surely applies to everyone contemplating a sudden, big burst of athleticism.
The easiest way to avoid injury is the one requiring the most discipline: don’t do too much of anything that’s new. Start out in moderation, play part of the game, do 5 miles instead of 20. You could save yourself a stress fracture or a couple of very uncomfortable weeks.
Flexibility and stretching are key, too, so if you know you have a new sport ahead, start working that part of the body, stretching daily, and always stretch after a workout to gain flexibility. A balanced diet and proper weight is always a good idea. Hauling an extra 30 pounds around a make-believe football field is tough.
Here’s another tip: A lack of magnesium can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Magnesium is lost via sweat, so regular exercisers and even saunagoers need to take in enough magnesium rich foods or supplement magnesium. But after a spontaneous workout, you’d do well to have some on hand.
Weekend warriors can benefit from maintaining a healthy mineral balance. Think of magnesium as your “muscle mineral.” The FDA recommends 310-420 mg daily for most adults.
Here are a few magnesium-rich foods if, like me, you prefer a healthy diet to taking lots of supplements: 3 ounces of halibut, 90 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted almonds, 80 gm; 1 ounce dry roasted cashews, 75 gm; 1/2 cup cooked soybeans, 75 gm; 1/2 cup frozen spinach, 75 gm; 1 ounce mixed dry roasted nuts, 65 gm; 2 biscuits of Shredded Wheat cereal 55 gm; 1 cup instant fortified oatmeal, 55 gm.
I also like to keep resistance bands all around me: tied to doors, in my travel bag, in front of the TV, wrapped around the legs and arms of my chairs. A good 10-minute workout with bands can be great if done right.
So if your college roomie has challenged you to a tennis rematch from days gone by … start working the “pushing” muscles on your chest wall, and get your shoulder primed for action. Do some sideways motion drills, and start taking magnesium. If it’s been a while, you’re going to need it!
In my last column, I explained that whey protein is often a problem for lactose-intolerant people who are using a protein supplement. It’s easy to assume that a protein supplement is beneficial for only extreme athletes such as bodybuilders, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Protein has many uses and supplementation is beneficial for a wide variety of users. They include the elderly; those with joint or degenerative diseases, or orthopedic conditions; the overweight; people who do heavy manual labor in their work, sport or hobby; those going through growth phases; people in physical rehab; men and women doing intensive training for a sport or competition; adults who work out on a regular basis; teen athletes who are trying to build muscle and strength; people taking symptomatic treatment for pain relief or inflammation; and anyone with pain resulting from excessive joint stress. Hardly anyone you know doesn’t fit onto that list somewhere.
The trick is getting that extra protein without absorbing a lot of extra calories, fillers or dairy products (as in the case of whey protein powder).
Collagen is a great way to get added protein. Did you know that collagen is the second-largest component of the human body after water? It’s a protein, and one found in muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, bones and more.
Historically, physicians have used collagen to treat skin trauma, such as burns and wounds. But collagen also affects the hair, nails and overall healthy appearance of skin, which is why you see it advertised in high-end skin care products.
As we age, our bodies stop producing collagen protein, and sadly, it’s collagen that gives our skin elasticity. So the appearance of dry, wrinkled skin is really the lack of collagen. Supplementing your diet with a natural source of collagen protein doesn’t just make you more youthful looking, however. Collagen builds lean healthy muscle – the muscle of youth – as well as healthy joints and bones. Can you think of a better supplement to give the special elders in your life?
Collagen protein also helps aid in the repair of muscle tissue. Because a good workout or physical exercise is actually breaking down the body’s muscles, collagen protein assists in the rebuilding process. Collagen makes it possible to heal faster, simultaneously building leaner muscle, following a workout. Some will even find they sleep more soundly when taking collagen protein. Sounds better all the time, doesn’t it?
You may wonder why a person can’t just eat more protein and gain the same benefits. It’s about bioavailability. Protein in food form has calories, of course, and a healthy daily diet only contains so many. The bioavailability of the protein also comes into question. By the time your body works to chew and digest the food, you’re not getting nearly as much protein as the amount you started with on your plate.
A powder form can provide extra protein without as much work for the body, but comes with the added calories of what it’s poured into. A liquid protein is your best bet. Find one that’s small in calories, and better yet, hydrolyzed – or “predigested” – which simply means that you ingest it in its smallest form, with no extra work for the body to break it down.
I encourage you to join me – and my husband and my teenage son – and add a low-cal collagen protein supplement to your diet. You could be amazed at the changes you experience. See the developing abs on the teen in the photo? That’s my son Cody, who drinks a liquid collagen protein supplement and works out regularly.
- Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian, sports nutrition authority, and and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers, Florida. She can be contacted at Elaine@eatrightRD.com or by visiting Associatesin Nutrition.com.