Blog

Three things you must pay attention to in the winter- by Jasper Blake

Vitamin D, H2O and Ginseng

For most summer athletes the winter months are a time for base building and cross training.  In Canada we are lucky to have winter because it provides a venue for some of the most fun sporting activities on the planet.  Winter is by and large great but it can also create added mental and physiological stress.  Cold weather and shorter, darker days can cause macro and micronutrient depletion that can leave you tired, fatigued and often under the weather.

1) Perhaps the most obvious example of micronutrient depletion is Vitamin D.  Northern climates in particular leave people prone to Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body through sunlight exposure.  In the winter months we are exposed to less sunlight particularly through the eyes and on the skin.  Incorporating a multivitamin supplement that contains Vitamin D can help you stay healthier during the winter months.

2) Hydration is another area that people often neglect in the winter.  This happens primarily because people don’t think to drink as much.  Cooler weather doesn’t prompt us to hydrate as readily as a hot summer day.  However, we still lose water at a rapid rate especially when exercising.  We lose water through sweating but also through respiration.  It’s not uncommon to become chronically dehydrated in the winter months.  If you exercise regularly make sure you follow a similar protocol for hydration as you do in the summer.  It’s also a good idea to make a habit of drinking a glass of water upon waking in order to replace lost water through respiration during sleep.

3) The immune system is probably the area that people focus on most during the winter months.  Ginseng has long been used in traditional medicine as an immune system booster.  Ginseng is often referred to as an adaptogen.  An adaptogen is a term used to describe a herb that increases the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue by balancing the endocrine and immune systems.  There are several products that claim to boost the immune system through the use of Ginseng.

Incorporating a good multivitamin/mineral supplement into your daily routine can help you stay healthy during the winter months.  A product like 7SYSTEMS Endurance Sports Supplement provides a complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals and added extras like the adaptogen ginseng.  And although 7SYSTEMS does not contain any water, you will likely consume a glass of it when taking the product so you will be inadvertently hydrating.


GINSENG

7SYSTEMS Endurance Sports Supplement contains 300mg of high quality Panax Ginseng in every daily pack (to buy our Ginseng pill separately would cost $20-$30 a month alone). Ginseng is one of our Critical System ingredients and plays an important role in 7SYSTEMS’ ability to keep you healthy so you can focus on your training and racing. Since this is one of the ingredients we get regular questions about we thought we would give you a quick overview of why it is included in the product.

Ginseng is arguably the best known herb on the market. There are two main varieties of Ginseng, Panax Ginseng, also called Asian or Korean Ginseng, and American Ginseng. Each type of Ginseng has a somewhat different biochemical make-up and therefore has different effects.

Origins

Panax Ginseng is native to China, Korea, and Russia and has been used as a herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. More recently Ginseng has been promoted as an ‘adaptogen’ which means it increases resistance to stress and builds energy and general vitality. As a result, Ginseng has been added to a variety of different products.

How It Works

The main active components of Panax Ginseng are ginsenosides, which have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects, however, not as many as some products would lead you to believe. Hundreds of ‘scientific’ studies of varying quality have been published on Ginseng, resulting in alleged health benefits, including: stress reduction, improving memory and learning, preventing cancer, enhancing blood circulation, stimulating the immune system, improving vision and hearing, controlling blood sugar levels, controlling cholesterol, increasing physical stamina, regulating blood pressure, inhibiting blood clots, improving male infertility and erectile dysfunction and improving post-menopausal symptoms. The data in support of these claimed benefit is, in some cases, inconsistent and conflicting.

Benefits

Although many products claim Ginseng will enhance physical performance, many of these claims have not been conclusively proven and in fact most of the clinical studies investigating the value of Ginseng in directly enhancing physical performance have shown no effect. However, results of clinical research studies do suggest that Panax Ginseng may improve psychological function, immune function, as well as other conditions such as diabetes. Reputable studies indicate that Panax Ginseng enhances phagocytosis (natural killer cell activity); improves mental performance; causes vasodilation; increases resistance to exogenous stress factors; enhances libido and copulatory performance and affects hypoglycemic activity. We have included Ginseng for its beneficial effect on immune function. There is conclusive evidence of these effects as shown in some of the studies we have highlighted below.

Scientific Examples of Ginseng’s Effect on Immune Function

One study examined people who had had at least two colds in the prior year, with participants taking a Ginseng extract or a placebo for a period of four months. The number of colds per person was lower in the Ginseng group than in the placebo group and the proportion of subjects with two or more colds during the four-month period and the total number of days cold symptoms were reported for all colds was significantly lower in the Ginseng group than in the placebo group.

Several other studies have shown that an extract of Ginseng reduces influenza cases in both elderly and healthy persons when compared to a placebo. The group who received Ginseng had a lower incidence of influenza and colds, higher antibody titers, and higher natural killer cell activity levels.

Another study showed enhanced chemotaxis, phagocytosis, increased total lymphocyte count, and increased numbers of T helper cells in those who received Ginseng daily for eight weeks. While a further study of persons with acute chronic bronchitis who were treated with antibiotics or antibiotics plus Ginseng, resulted in those in the Ginseng group achieving faster bacterial clearance.

In one of the largest studies done on Ginseng to date, the risk of cancer was shown to be lower in those who used Panax Ginseng than those that did not for persons older than 40 years.

Side Effects and Safety of Ginseng

Overall, Panax Ginseng appears to be well tolerated in general although a small percentage of people taking Ginseng may experience certain side effects such as nervousness, agitation, insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations. If you do experience any of these side effects we recommend you consult with you physician. Where you are experiencing trouble sleeping, we recommend you take 7SYSTEMS in the morning with your breakfast rather than at night.

We also caution the following persons from using Ginseng without first consulting a healthcare provider: (a) person taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs, (b) people with diabetes, (c) people with heart disease or (d) people taking medications for high blood pressure; and pregnant or nursing women and children should avoid Ginseng altogether.

In Conclusion

Ginseng has been used for thousands of years, and has been added to everything from soaps and lotions to foods and supplements. Although, it is now generally agreed that Ginseng is not the whole body tonic able to enlighten the mind, increase wisdom, slow down ageing and cure many conditions, it does have many proven benefits…and you should consider if it can help you.