By Cheshire Que, RND, RN, RD
Pursuing health by being physically active and taking proper nutrition is the surest way to achieve optimum health. At least that’s what most of us believe in. Embracing a gym rat’s way of living is often viewed as the ideal healthy lifestyle. It includes adherence to an exercise program and a specific diet. Oftentimes nutrient supplementation and ergogenic aids (caffeine, sports drinks, or illegal substances) are also consumed regularly to enhance performance during high intensity exercise.
Unfortunately, too much of a good thing is also not good. Extreme exercise and diet regimens lead to serious medical conditions affecting the person physically and psychologically. They may even result to irreversible damage to the body’s organs.
Are you now scared to go back to the gym? Don’t turn into a couch potato just yet. After all, exercise is medicine. You just have to learn one word: Moderation.
Recently, actress, model, and crowned Ms. International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago cautioned her followers on social media against engaging in heavy workout and the use of pre-workout drinks. The 28-year-old beauty queen is speaking from her own experience. She admitted to suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD as a result of her gym life.
It is truly mind-boggling how something that should benefit an individual’s health such as exercise can do grave damage. Therefore it is important to understand how strenuous exercise can impact the body. During exercise, muscle tissues naturally break down. As the body is properly nourished with adequate protein from sources like fish, chicken, meat, soy, whey, and egg, muscle are then built and repaired. But when the large muscle groups are subjected to high intensity or extreme workouts, muscles get severely damaged. A protein called myoglobin is released into the bloodstream, which can potentially damage the kidneys. Myoglobin is too large a molecule for the kidneys to filter. This condition is known as Rhabdomyolysis. Dehydration, as well as, extreme heat increases the risk of development. Rhabdomyolysis is characterized by muscle weakness, decreased urine output, fatigue, muscle soreness, bruises, fever, and dark or tea-colored urine. Left untreated, Chronic Kidney Disease may require dialysis to artificially filter the blood or kidney transplantation.
Are you now scared to go back to the gym? Don’t turn into a couch potato just yet. After all, exercise is medicine. You just have to learn one word: Moderation. To prevent damaging your muscles and kidneys permanently, don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion. Progress is important in workouts but remember that it is not tantamount to exertion that involves extreme levels and longer duration that you are not accustomed to. Gradually increase the intensity, frequency, and duration of your exercises. Listen to your body. While you’re at it, drink water before, during, and after exercise.
If you feel the need to take sports drinks or any ergogenic aid to enhance your experience and performance, it is recommended that you undergo proper assessment with your physician and consult a dietitian to know the right type and amount that can be safely consumed. Don’t turn yourself into a guinea pig by experimenting on the latest available supplement, sports drinks, or energy drinks. The misuse and abuse of these substances can cause electrolyte imbalances, heart problems, kidney failure, liver damage, and even death. It is always better to be safe than sorry. When it comes to your health, don’t take chances. Let a professional guide you.