Wellness Shots, Hip or Hype?

Wellness shotsCareful, the halo effect from shots might blind you. You can’t sling a gym bag these days without hitting a wellness shot at your local juice bar. But are they really all that they’re cracked up to be?

Here’s what the experts said:

Wheatgrass is a powerhouse of antioxidants with a  high concentration of chlorophyll [70%]. But what’s so magical about it? Well, “chlorophyll is structurally analogous to hemoglobin… the only difference… is the nature of the central atom magnesium in chlorophyll and iron in hemoglobin. The structural similarity… is the reason behind the increased oxygen supply to all cells. This allows for the limited use of chlorophyll as a blood substitute.”

Personally, I’m not a fan of wheatgrass because of an adverse reaction I experienced from it. Instead, I maximize my chlorophyll intake with a daily Electrolyte Green smoothie.

CherryMontmorency Tart Cherry juice. Published research suggests that supplementation before and after intense training improves performance and reduces muscle soreness in anterior and posterior quadricep leg muscles. But no evidence is cited for long-term supplementation, though there is evidence as to improved sleep quality with prolonged usage, which was music to my sleep dog’s ear. How effective is it? I’m taking it for a thirty-day test drive and will report back.

gingerGinger has a long history steeped in Eastern culture that has garnered attention in Western alternative medicine over the past thirty years as a homeopathic remedy to relieve nausea related to morning sickness and after chemotherapy, accelerated weight loss, reduced blood sugar, and a marked boost in overall immune health. Due to its antioxidant content, research indicates ginger may protect against certain types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer. While robust evidence supports its benefits, limited evidence is available regarding ginger shots. But other ingredients added such as lemon juice, honey, and turmeric may synergistically enhance its immune response and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Turmeric (curcumin)… “may help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and performance in active people… attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Ingesting curcumin by itself does not lead to the associated health benefits due to… poor absorption. For example, piperine is the major active component of black pepper, and, when combined with curcumin, has shown to increase bioavailability by 2000%.”turmeric-and-black-pepper-1296x728-feature

2000% Hmmm. Pepper and turmeric, like calcium in the presence of vitamin-D or iron with vitamin-C, when taken together, act as a catalyst to help the body absorb the minerals, which in this case, is the curcumin in turmeric.

After reading the plethora of health benefits, my interest was drawn to its anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic effect. As a former athlete, I’ve put my body to the test under punishing workouts, most notably my knees, which, given my age, marks me as a candidate for osteoarthritis. As of yet [at 62], I haven’t experienced joint pain, but I do experience muscle soreness after workouts due to my body’s effort to break down the buildup of lactic acid. I shy from taking analgesics for several reasons: they are a drug, and another element my liver has to detoxify. More importantly, soreness is an indicator of stress. I’m highly in-tuned to my body, and I know what good stress vs. bad is, i.e., pain, and if masked, can lead to injury which circles back to an earlier point of cellular-oxygenation. “Lactic acid occurs when there’s not enough oxygen in the muscles to break down glycogen and glucose,” i.e., muscle fuel. I think of lactic acid as a messenger, telling me, “slow down. Pace yourself and hydrate.” That’s when the electrolyte green smoothie steps in during my workout.

Post-workout tension is a natural biochemical reaction to exercise. It tells us that our muscles and tendons are alive and well and that post-workout burn is your body recovering from the exercise. But building and maintaining muscle mass after age 40-50-60 has become more and more difficult, though not impossible. Exercise+Good Nutrition+Rest and Recovery=Muscle Growth. And it’s the recovery portion I wanted to accelerate, naturally. So I used turmeric [as prescribed with pepper] and ginger in combination to see if it could slow the build-up of lactic acid during workouts and alleviate post muscle soreness sooner to accelerate recovery.

Here’s what I found after 14-days. On high-intensity workout days [cycling, circuit training, and ballet bar], I sank a turmeric/ginger shot 2-hrs prior to the workout and one an hour afterward. On the other days, I consumed only one shot in the morning. By day ten, I noticed a substantial improvement during my workout—especially while cycling—and lessened my recovery time. Arguably, my muscles may have acclimated to the workout, and the shots were merely a placebo. But the proof is in the pudding, that for me, equates to building enough suspension muscle in my quads and glutes to resume my sport—figure skating. I must be out of my ever flippin’ mind which is an open debate for another post. So say tuned to my progress in putting this ol’ bod back on ice. In the meantime, whatever your health goals are, it’s never too late to reclaim your wellness. Cheers!

IMG_9039-1Turmeric & Ginger Shot:

  • 1/3-cup chopped turmeric with skin or 3-tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1/3-cup chopped ginger with skin or 3-tbsp ground ginger
  • 2/3-cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3-cup fresh orange juice
  • 1-tbsp honey
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

What you’ll need: blender, strainer, and glass container.

Blend the first five ingredients. Strain and divide between shot glasses and top with a dash or two of freshly ground pepper. Yields 4-2oz shots. Store leftover shots in an airtight container and refrigerate.