One of the questions we always ask when a client comes in for a personal training consultation at Genesis Gym, is what kinds of medication they are currently taking.
While we don’t mean to “invade” anyone’s privacy with these questions, under-lying health conditions can make a big difference in the results people get from training and proper nutrition.
From the many thousands of consultations we have done over the last 10+ years, and the data we have collected, I would say that at least a third of all clients take at least one pharmaceutical drug for a health problem.
While these drugs can have benefits especially in acute illness or trauma, they often come with side effects, so it is usually in your interest to work with your medical doctors to reduce, and then cut out your dosages over time. After all, a healthy body does not need drugs as it has the DNA to heal itself given the right conditions of nutrients, emotional health, and physical activity.
Meanwhile, as you work on your health with a good nutrition plan and proper exercise, and lowering your dosage of medication…
Here are, in our experience, the 4 most common medications that Singapore residents use, and some of the nutrients that are likely to be depleted.
This gives you an idea of what supplements you can use to minimize the medication’s side effects.
1. Cholesterol Blocking Drugs (statins of all kinds e.g. Lipitor, Crestor etc)
Cholesterol is not really the “bad guy” many people think it is, and it’s important for many other things like building cell walls, hormones, vitamin D, bone health, muscle strength/size and immune system strength.
The medications cut off production very “early” in the production line, so some other important products are not made as well. The most critical of these is CoQ10 which is important for heart health.
So, to help your nutrient status if you are on cholesterol medication, I would recommend a CoQ10 supplement as well as lots of sunlight/vitamin D supplements. You would also benefit from strength training as it helps maintain lean muscle size and strength.
2. Blood Pressure Medication (usually called beta-blockers)
These work by lowering your heart rate, and lowering the amount of blood your heart pumps out. If your blood pressure is really high (tested in the morning, no stress, just after waking up) then this is an acceptable temporary solution.
A more long term solution is to improve your cardiovascular system with exercise such as circuit training, and nutrients that make your blood vessels more “relaxed” and bigger – lowering pressure, such as magnesium, potassium and arginine.
Meanwhile, if you are still on this medication, take note that beta blockers do deplete CoQ10 as well as melatonin, leading to lower energy, and often, insomnia. Nutrients like magnesium and herbs like Valerian Root can help with the sleep issues.
3. Blood Sugar Medication (usually Metformin)
This medication is often taken by diabetics, or pre-diabetics. Because diabetes (type 2) is a blood sugar management problem, the bigger picture solution is to get rid of stuff that spikes blood sugar – namely refined carbohydrates, starches, and sweets! A good start is with my previous article about carbohydrate types.
But if you are on metformin, do take note that it depletes B vitamins, CoQ10, and causes digestive issues. So you may want to make sure you take those supplements, and reduce the burden on your digestive tract with a good enzyme supplement, and a reduction in commonly intolerant foods like wheat, diary and peanuts.
4. Birth Control Medication (Ladies)
There are many different types of these medications in different dosages and with different types of hormones. But in general they do hinder weight loss and often decrease concentration and memory. In addition there are negative effects with bone density, muscle function and cholesterol profile. Much of this can be attributed to the nutrients that are depleted.
These are, in no particular order, selenium, zinc, all B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid), Vitamin C and magnesium.
A higher dose of multivitamins would be a good choice in this case, or if you can a different form of birth control like condoms, is preferable.
Ok, there we have it, time to get well nourished so that you can eventually GET OFF your medication and be healthy and strong!