Friday, July 12, 2013

Running with the Runs

Whatever the cause, be it nerves, strong coffee or the left-over beans you had for lunch, many runners from novice to professionals are sometimes faced with the urge to have to use the bathroom during a run. Running jostles internal organs and increases body temperature which sometimes intensifies the necessity having to empty the bowels.

One of the luxuries of running on trails and back-roads.

Needless to say, this is an unpleasant and uncomfortable inconvenience. However, there are a couple of preparations you can do to help prevent this occurrence:

1. Avoid foods that pass through the system quickly and foods that are high in fiber before a run. This means giving ample time to digest after your morning bowl of shredded wheat or skipping the salad at lunch before your evening run.

2. Drink a cup of tea (or coffee if it's a reasonable time of day) to help stimulate your bowls before a run. The caffeine content can help move things along, especially first thing in the morning. Even drinking water can start the gastrocolic reflex, a function that is triggered when you eat or drink something. The reflex works to make more room in the stomach by increasing movement in the GI tract and causing the urge to defecate after a meal.

"No hablo Ingles?"
3. Sometimes you just have to go- and that's okay! If you think you are not going to make it through a run, carry some tissues or napkins with you just in case. If you are on the roads, convenience stores become that much more convenient. Don’t worry about getting the stink eye from an employee when you skulk in and out without buying something.

Potty problems is just another unique characteristic of running. Though never fun at the time, they sure make for a great survival story later on.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Raw Mushrooms= Cancer?

Head over to Trail Runner Magazine and find out if eating raw mushrooms is harmful to your health in my first 'Ask the Dietitian' column!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

'Ask the Dietitian'!

I am happy to announce that I will be writing a monthly column called 'Ask the Dietitian' for and their weekly enewsletter, Inside Dirt.

If you have a question you would like to see answered in the online 'Ask the Dietitian' column, you can submit your questions any time to 

Keep a look out for my first article about the food do's and don'ts of elite athletes in the their upcoming September 2013 print issue!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Not Enough Mettle to Eat a Nettle

Nettles on my knee.
I was only recently introduced to the surprising sting of the nettle plant on a hike in Larrabee State Park. I was walking along minding my own business when I suddenly felt a sharp nip in my ankle. I stopped and squatted down to tend to the blood that was surely streaming from my injury. But when I looked at the site of the sting, there wasn't a mark to be found. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to express the pain I was feeling from this phantom wound with my hiking partner, but the persistent throbbing forced me to speak up.

“Oh, you just got stung by a nettle,” she said nonchalantly. I was intrigued. We don’t have nettles in West Virginia and so I was completely taken off guard with this predatory plant. The pain from the nettles feels like a combination of a bee sting and electrotherapy. In other words, it’s not pleasant. Each person’s reaction may be different, but for me it starts with an initial sting, then a strange throbbing sensation and concludes with an itchy rash reminiscent of poison ivy that lasts 3-4 days.

Urtica dioica
At closer look, the leaves and stems have many hairs called trichomes, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals. Even more shocking, nettles have a long history of being used for food and medicinal purposes despite their hairy weapons.

When cooked, the flavor of nettle is similar to spinach and cucumber and it is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese and calcium, making it a highly nutritious plant source. Soaking nettles in water or cooking the nettles will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant. You can use nettles as an alternative to leafy greens in a variety of recipes, such as soups, pasta and pesto. Nettles are also sometimes used to flavor some varieties of cheese and the leaves may be steeped for tea.

Nettle leaf extract has been used to treat arthritis and is an ingredient in shampoo to make hair appear more glossy. It also acts as a diuretic with the intention to prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

I don’t know if the stinging nettle will catch on to become the next kale, but I do know to keep my arms and legs on the trails at all times.