Sterols & Sitosterolins for Athletes

Recognized as phytonutrient lipid complexes derived from plant fats, sterols and sitosterolins are powerful immunomodulatory agents useful in the fight against human disease. Seeds and sprouts are nature's richest sources; common foods that provide high amounts include almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, squash, barley, peas, olive oil, peanuts, and clove.

Many plant oils are also high in these fat-soluble wonders, but the oils must be fresh, non-processed and non-purified.

In the same way that cholesterol is the main sterol in animals, beta-sitosterol is the principle phytosterol in plants. Sitosterolin, which is the glucoside of sitosterol, is present in low concentration in the blood of mammals. Phytosterols have shown no toxicity in research, and represent an excellent means of helping to maintain the immune system of the health-conscious natural athlete.

In The Immune System Cure (1999), coauthors Lorna Vanderhaeghe and Patrick Bouic PhD, confirm what Colgan, King, Cavaleri, Danniels and myself have been saying to athletes everywhere for years, "High-intensity exercise for extended periods causes immune suppression..."

No athlete can train with intensity or continue to make progress if they aren't well, so protecting the body from damage makes perfect sense. Optimum nutrition is certainly one of the most important and fundamental considerations, this means planning meals in advance and using discretion with regards to both macronutrient and micronutrient content.

Macronutrient applies to fats, carbs and proteins, while micronutrient refers to vitamin, mineral and trace element density. Counting calories without consideration of how the food is biochemically processed individually is a good lesson is futility. Each one of us must learn first hand by experience how to balance food intake in relation to supply and demand. Thousands of people use calorie counting as a sole method of weight management, but seldom achieve their goals on a permanent or long-term basis. I'm referring to those who desire fat loss and/or the accretion of lean tissue mass. To do it right requires organized planning and specialized knowledge, especially if it's your job.

The New Sports Nutrition bridges the gap between nutrition and fitness. Dietary supplements offer incredible advantages when used correctly and consistently. Start with the basics, build a solid foundation and over time, you will soon develop an intimate understanding of what it is you're doing and why. The same rule applies to food and organics. But food is almost always left to chance and few athletes really understand the how and why of supplements.

Sport nutrition is an art and a science. The art consists of nourishing the body with food and supplements in a skillful, safe and consistent manner. Through observation, research and repeated experiment, science investigates the effect of food and supplements on the health and performance of athletes. This in turn helps all of us to understand the "how" and the "why". To be successful in the world of sport, fitness and health, and to remain well and injury free, one must apply the art as a derivative of sound science and learn to appreciate the philosophy of the natural health movement.

Naturopathic physician Dr. Chris Morris, director of the treatment center Transformational Health, located in Menlo Park, California, recommends that sterols/sitosterolins be taken after a heavy workout to diminish pain and reduce the stressful affects of strenuous exercise. His research and experience with athletes indicates that these sterol substances may act as catalysts for hormone production and simulate the effects of amino acids as secretagogues. Thus sterols/sitosterolins may enhance growth hormone release.

Dr. Bouic, Professor of immunology at the department of Medical Microbiology, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa, conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial in which a total of 17 marathon runners participated. Those who consumed the phytosterols displayed a significant reduction of interleukin-6, as measured by analysis of their blood, than those unknowingly had consumed the placebo dummy. Elevation of interleukin-6 is associated with inflammation and increases the cortisol release, which suppresses immune activity and counters the anabolic flux that protects the athlete from losing muscle and lean mass.

The sterols and their B-D-glucosides (sterolins) are available in stabilized, 80-90% bioavailable capsule form, and it appears that the best products derive the plant sterols from a combination of organic wild and cultured sprouts, which are freeze-dried and extracted without heat or exposure to oxygen. The optimum ratio of glucosides to sterols is somewhere in the range of 1:6 to 1:10. For best results, 2-4 300mg capsules are recommended in conjunction with a post-workout shake.

As always, stay well and live free!...Dr.C