Functional Medicine for Athletic Performance and Recovery


Functional medicine is showing great promise for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and inflammatory processes. And it’s not just something that can help you when you’re sick.

Functional medicine is just as much about helping the body function optimally overall. It can be utilized any time, even when you have no symptoms, to address underlying conditions that might be preventing your body from functioning optimally.

And that’s what makes functional medicine extremely beneficial for athletic performance and recovery. Anything that makes your body stronger and reduces inflammation can give you an edge, prevent injuries, and reduce recovery times.

Here’s a look at the benefits of functional medicine for athletic performance and recovery.

How Intense Exercise Affects the Body

During and after intense exercise, there’s a delicate balance of breaking down (catabolic) and building up (anabolic) processes going on inside your body. These processes can’t be performed optimally if your nutrient levels or hormone levels are even just a little bit off.

If the balance is too catabolic, the muscle breakdown that occurs during your workout won’t fully heal and you will experience muscle loss (sarcopenia). Sarcopenia is part of the natural aging process, but it shouldn’t occur in a young, healthy, active person. Koi

Underlying Reasons for Athletic Performance and Recovery Decline

In general, a decline in athletic performance and recovery is usually related to chronic stress, hormonal imbalance, toxic overload, or nutritional deficiencies.

According to the experts at Rahav Wellness who offer New York City-based functional medicine services, each of these issues could have a variety of potential causes. But at the end of the day, they all affect the health of your cellular mitochondria, which are the batteries that fuel most of the anabolic processes in the body.

Let’s discuss each of these underlying causes in more detail.

●  Nutritional Deficiencies

Let’s face it. Life is busy. When you’re juggling a full-time job, a social life, a family, and working out regularly, it’s easy to see how eating a clean, nutrient-dense diet every day could get put on the back burner.

The thing is hard work can only take you so far. A diet full of processed, convenience food is a sure path to nutrient deficiencies and catabolic breakdown. And according to the doctors at Rahav, even if you’re eating clean every day, other issues could be contributing to underlying nutritional deficiencies.

For example, digestive issues can affect your body’s ability to break down nutrients in your food so that your body can absorb them into the bloodstream for recovery and repair. Chronic stress can lead to poor digestive enzyme production. Digestive system pathogens, bacteria, and parasites can also lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Unfortunately, many of these issues don’t cause noticeable symptoms unless they become very serious. You may not even realize you have a problem with your gut health, but it could still be having a major impact on your nutrition. And that’s bad news for your athletic performance and recovery, not to mention how you feel in general on a daily basis.

● Chronic Stress and Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can affect anyone, man or woman, young or old. Anytime your body is under stress and not getting adequate recovery time, your hormone levels will suffer. We’ve all heard about the Olympic athlete who pushes her body so hard that her menstrual cycles are disrupted or stop completely.

A combination of chronic mental, emotional, and/or physical stress can disrupt the vital feedback mechanisms between the body and brain. These mechanisms tell the endocrine organs how much of each hormone needs to be produced.

For men, this disruption can lead to low testosterone levels, irritability, and fatigue. In women, the effects include migraines, fatigue, and menstrual cycle disruptions. All of these things can affect your athletic performance without you even realizing there’s a problem.

● Toxic Overload

You can’t look at the news or social media these days without seeing a story about how toxic our environment has become. From pesticides and herbicides in our food to air pollution, we’re all exposed to toxins daily without even realizing it. And you really can’t avoid it completely either.

In fact, even the blue light that’s emitted from the screens we stare at every day is a type of environmental pollution. It has been shown to disrupt our sleep patterns, which can lead to all sorts of hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, and so much more.

And we still have a lot to learn about the effects of toxins on the body. But we do know that toxic overload affects cellular health, which plays a key role in optimal athletic performance and recovery.

How Functional Medicine Can Help

So, how can functional medicine help? Functional medicine practitioners address the how and why of your issues, rather than simply relieving the symptoms. According to the experts from Rahav Wellness, the goal is to find and correct the processes that are causing your symptoms.

For example, do you have an inflamed gut that’s leading to hormonal imbalance and a weak immune system? Do you have a nutritional deficiency that’s slowing recovery times? What about a general toxic overload causing fatigue, headaches, and joint pain?

The practitioner may utilize a variety of blood tests and lab work to check your hormone levels and determine how your body is functioning. In the end, you may leave with a prescription or supplements to address something like low thyroid levels or high blood pressure.

But many times, the treatment will be something totally different from what you’re used to. Functional medicine uses a combination of modern therapies to get your body functioning optimally and each treatment plan is highly individualized.

Here are some examples of what a typical treatment plan might include:

  • IV Nutrition Therapy: IV nutrition therapy is a safe and fast way to address underlying nutritional deficiencies. Tailored IV infusions can be customized for each patient to boost recovery, combat dehydration and fatigue, and detoxify. For athletes, they’re a great way to boost performance and replenish your body anytime, such as before or after an intense workout or event.
  • Colon Hydrotherapy: Colon hydrotherapy is an effective tool for rebalancing the gut and detoxifying the body. It can address digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, headaches, fatigue, and much more.

Wrapping Things Up

If you find yourself facing a plateau or you’re just not reaching your goals, a visit to a functional medicine practitioner is certainly worth considering. They can diagnose and treat any underlying issue that’s affecting your athletic performance and recovery. At the end of the day, a body that’s functioning optimally will also be stronger and more resistant to fatigue and sickness, too.