When will people learn! It constantly amazes me every time I’m passing through an airport and have a moment to pick up Men’s Health, a bodybuilding magazine or just about any of the women’s magazines, only to see the 9,700th rendition of an abdominal article on the crunch - hanging, sideways, legs twisted, elbow to opposite knee, reverse, on a bed of nails! People, what I’m about to tell you is not new, it’s just that there is too much money to be made from dysfunction. Sorry to be so frank, but all you need do is look around the gyms, clinics and doctors offices of the world and not much has changed except Bill Gates is making his presence progressively larger; the crunch articles are coming out even faster thanks to Bill!
In this article, I will briefly touch on the two most common reasons that all the crunches in the world won’t flatten your abs and I will share a simple technology to help you flatten them, and it’s so simple that Bill Gates himself wouldn’t have been likely to think of it.
The food you eat may contain additives, preservatives, pesticides or other chemical agents that irritate and inflame your intestinal tract. As I will show you below, this is a very common source of abdominal wall dysfunction – stubborn abdominals that don’t respond to exercise.
Today, much of what people eat really shouldn’t be called food. If you look on the label, you will very commonly see such signifiers as artificial flavoring, artificial coloring or preservatives. All quaint ways for manufacturers to hide what is often a lengthy list of potentially toxic chemicals, the knowledge of which is very likely to skew your decision to purchase the product. A classic example of what I am talking about can be appreciated by looking at the ingredients commonly used to make a Burger King strawberry milk shake, but not listed because they are generally regarded as safe (GRAS):
Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethy. Nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerbate, heliotropin, hydroxyphrenyl-2butanone (10% solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent (1. p. 126)!
To make matters worse, food manufactures are not required to list pesticides used, nor the results of testing to determine which pesticide residues remain on your food. To make my point, let’s refer to a scientific article to see what scientists found when they analyzed the sausage roll and apple fed to children as lunch on a typical day in a New Zealand school, (2):
Sausage: DDE, Chlorpyrifos-methyl, fenitrothion, Pirimiphos-methyl
Tomato: Alpha-endosulfan, beta-endosulfan, endosulfan-sulphate, chlorothalonil, dithiocarbamates, iprodione, procymidone, vinclozolin.
Butter: DDE (Authors Note: DDE is a derivative of DDT)
White bread roll: chlorpyrifos-methyl, dichlorvos, fenitrothion, malathion, pirimiphos-methyl.
Apple: chlorpyrifos, captan, iprodione, vinclozolin.
Now, the mere fact that you are unlikely to even be able to pronounce most of the words that make the flavor strawberry, or the fact that there are some 19 pesticides in a typical child’s lunch should concern you! Consider that only a 100 years ago, most anything you put in your mouth, later to pass through your gut wall to be processed by your precious liver could easily be pronounced. For example, chicken, beef, milk, egg, carrot are all both easily pronounced, and when grown organically, easily digested and assimilated as food and energy for use by the body.
A big problem with the shocking number of chemical agents being used on and in our foods today is that many of them accumulate in the body, damage the immune system and other key physiological systems and many cause inflammation of your gastrointestinal system. For example, Amyl acetate, the first of our so-called GRAS ingredients has these effects; is a skin irritant and causes central nervous system depression when ingested. Exposure of 950 parts per million for one hour has caused headache, fatigue, chest pain and irritation of the mucous membranes (3). That last bit, “irritation of the mucous membranes” is astonishingly common side effect, not only of food additives, colorings, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers and pesticide residues, but is a common symptom of numerous medical drugs. For example, many of the commonly prescribed antiinflammatory drugs list gastrointestinal inflammation as a side effect; some even list low back pain as a side effect! Now, let me show you how these nasty little culprits so common in society today can throw a monkey wrench into your exercise program!
Organs Talk To Muscles!
In your body, your internal organs barrow their pain sensitive nerve endings from a branch of the nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system. As it turns out, the nerves that sense pain in your internal organs (such as your stomach, small intestine and colon) are actually borrowed from your musculoskeletal system. This is why, for example, when someone is getting a heart attack, they feel pain in their left chest and left arm; the heat, having borrowed it’s sensory nerve endings from the left chest and arm sends it’s pain through these nerve pathways. The brain, which gets the message that there is pain coming from the spinal centers that feed the left arm, left chest and heart can’t differentiate heart pain from chest/arm pain. The reaction…the spinal cord and brain produce a pain reaction in the left arm, chest and heart. Now as I’m sure you well know, a muscle in pain (or even perceived pain in this case) is not a strong muscle. You can easily prove this to yourself by putting a small rock in your shoe and then see how much load you can squat with before your leg gives out; pain always inhibits muscles!
The issue of organs shutting muscles down is really not nearly as common as you may think. For example, ask any woman where she hurts when premenstrual and you will find that the natural inflammatory process associated with sloughing of the uterus causes pain in the low back, can go down the legs and often causes neck problems as well. While I could list many more examples here, it is important to realize that if you eat anything that causes an inflammatory reaction in your small intestine or colon, it can shut down your abdominal muscles, resulting is a distended, unattractive belly (see Figure 1.) Irritating the intestinal tract either by chemical action, allergic response or because you have developed an intolerance to an ingested foodstuff or chemical results in the brain thinking the stomach muscles are in pain; the small intestine and colon will behave just like your heart does when in pain. All the exercise in the world won’t fix the problem, as many of you well know!
When you clean your diet up and eat only those things designed by Mother Nature for human consumption, such as water and a diet based on organic produce, meats and ocean going fish, there will be no more inflammation and the abdominal muscles will respond to exercise (Figure 2.). A simple rule I share with my patients (particularly those suffering back pain with abdominal wall weakness as a correlating factor) is simply that if it wasn’t here 10,000 years ago, don’t eat it! Another one of my rules is, If you can’t pronounce a word on the label, your liver won’t like it and neither will your abdominal wall. If you are currently eating within the confines of the principles I have shared here, I recommend you consult your physician for a high quality blood test for food allergy and food intolerance. For examples of the tests I am referring to, visit www.ALCAT.com or http://www.gsdl.com.
Figure 1. Small Intestine and Colon Reflex Pathway
Pain in the small intestine generally decreases upper abdominal muscle performance while pain in the colon often decreases lower abdominal muscle performance, resulting in the dreaded bulge!
Figure 2. Optimal Gut Function = Optimal Abdominal Muscle Function!
1. Fast Food Nation, By Eric Schlosser
Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, New York 2001
2. Children, Pesticides and Cancer, By Alison White
The Ecologist, Vol. 28, No. 2, March/April, 1998
3. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives (p.59), by Ruth Winter, M.S.
Three Rivers Press, NY. 1999