If you’re an athlete trying to stay healthy for an entire season, heed this counsel: Eating processed foods regularly will make you sick. From time.com:
A study published in Nutrition Journal looked at the impact the Western diet and lifestyle has on people’s immune function. It found that the large number of calories in processed and fast food may lead to health problems such as increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.
As a young ballplayer with the Texas Rangers in 2001, I, along with my teammates came in to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of June. This series was personally important to me. It was my only trip to LA that season, and my family and friends would be in attendance. I was set to play CF that first game, but found myself on the training table after batting practice, sweating and puking from a stomach virus. I missed that night’s game. Still sick, I dragged myself out play center the following two games and embarrassed myself at the plate and on D. We lost both of the games. I had a chance to help us win each, but I didn’t. I still wonder how circumstances would have been different if I was healthy.
The stomach troubles came from a virus I picked up somewhere, but it was my diet that left me exposed. During that time period, I regularly drank protein shakes, ate packaged “nutrition bars” and perceived healthy shit like “Baked Lays” daily. From mercola.com:
In short, nearly all processed foods are the epitome of what you shouldn’t be putting in your body. The research against processed foods is hard to deny, or ignore, any longer, especially in light of a new study highlighting processed foods’ detrimental effect on your immune system and gut health (and that of future generations).
That virus wasn’t enough of a wakeup call. In 2003, in camp with the Rockies, I again became ill with the stomach flu. I lost a week of camp time to that one. When I returned, I played less and was weak at the outset of the season in Denver. I was still grubbing on fake food.
You’ve been following this blog for some time, so you know that I don’t drink protein shakes or eat bars anymore. I avoid processed foods at all costs. I haven’t had a stomach issue or even had so much as a cold kick my ass in years.
Is this anecdotal? Hell yes. Is my personal experience enough to get you to make the adjustment if you’re a professional athlete? Not likely, and it shouldn’t be. We make well researched decisions ‘round here. However, think about it. Your health has a tangible impact on your career. Becoming ill can cost you your starting job. It can weaken you for days or weeks after returning to a reasonable state of health. If we are confident in the science and buy into the fact that processed foods will make you sick more often over time, you may want to consider hunting whole foods in the form of humanely raised and slaughtered (grass fed) animal flesh and fresh fruits and veggies.
As an athlete, your health isn’t marginal value. A win at the MLB level may be worth between 6-8 million dollars. If you are your team’s best option and you miss time due to illness, thus costing your club a W…well, you can do the math. Your value as an athlete is directly tied to your ability to stay on the field. You can’t make a play if you can’t get off the training table.
Get some quality fuel,