We all know that keeping our feet strong is key to proper posture, optimal movement patterns and staying pain-free as we age. In my workshops I’m a huge advocate of Barefoot Baby Boomers and keeping barefoot stimulation a key part of our lifestyle. However to truly stay #barefootstrong as we age we need to do a little more than simply train sans footwear.
Biohacking Your Barefeet
With changing nutritional values, toxins in our food and combating everyday stress we no longer can rely on diet and exercise to ensure our youngest, healthiest selves. This is where I advise my patients to turn to vitamin supplementation and simple ways to #biohackthebody.
Below are some of my favorite supplements that are all designed to enhance nerve function, reduce inflammation and combat free radicals before they damage our peripheral nerves and fascial network.
Supplement #1 – Wild Blueberry Extract
You may have heard that blueberries are brain food. What makes blueberries so beneficial is that they are packed with polyphenols or compounds unique to plants. Polyphenols which can also be found in coffee, dark chocolate and spices carry some of the strongest anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2004 study by Youdim et al. found that wild blueberry supplementation enhanced neurogenesis in the aging brain with their flavonoids being able to cross the blood brain barrier. Now you may have been told that we do not grow new brain cells or our peripheral nerves cannot regenerate – this is not true! The research in the field of neurogenesis is a super exciting area of medicine and is showing some exciting advances in aging, neuropathy and neurodegenerative diseases.
To maximize the benefits of blueberry polyphenols I recommend taking wild blueberry extract daily to avoid the excess sugars of eating so many blueberries daily. Also make sure the blueberries are *wild* as these contain the highest levels of polyphenols!
Recommended: Life Extension Wild Blueberry Extract
Supplement #2 – Krill Oil
This is one of my newest fav supplements for my patients. Krill oil is similar to fish oil supplements in that they are packed with beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA). However unlike fish oils, krill oil phospholipids have a special carotenoid called astaxanthin attached to it. Astaxanthin is an extremely powerful antioxidant that – get this – can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB)! This makes Krill Oil so powerful to maintaining nerve function.
In addition to crossing the BBB omega 3’s have such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit that they make a great replacement or alternative to traditional NSAIDs such as Advil, Aspirin or Aleve. These anti-inflammatory benefits have shown to reduce arthritis pain, nerve inflammation and connective tissue pain.
Recommended: Dr Mercola Antartica Krill Oil
Supplement #3 – R-Lipoic Acid
This was one of my favorite supplements when I was going through medical school and was a big forerunner when it came to anti-aging supplements. It’s great to see that it is still one of the strongest anti-oxidants on the market – and has actually been formulated to be even more powerful when taken in its sodium-R-lipoate form!
Neuropathy has a oxidative stress theory which means that to keep the nerves of the feet (and hands) healthy we need to keep our oxidative stress low! Super R-Lipoic Acid is more bioavailable, stable, and potent, achieving 10–30 times higher peak blood levels than pure R-lipoic acid.
I also recommend taking R-lipoic acid with the next supplement and nerve-protective powerhouse ALC!
Recommended: Life Extension Super R-Lipoic Acid
Supplement # 4 – Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)
ALC is another favorite supplement when I was going through medical school and doing research in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Again super excited to see it’s still one of the best nerve-protective supplements on the market.
ALC like all of the above supplements has the unique ability to cross the BBB which means it’s crucial to nervous system health. Studies have shown that ALC may have potential in exerting unique neuroprotective, neuromodulatory and neurotrophic properties that are not limited to just the central nervous system. Study after study has shown great effects of ALC on peripheral neuropathy patients.
Recommended: Life Extension Acetyl-L-Carnitine
Supplement #5 – L-Cittruline (Watermelon)
Watermelon is one of my favorite pre-workout drinks due to its effect on vasodilation and circulation! The vasodilation effect of watermelon is found in the amino acid L-Citruline which is a precursor to nitric oxide (think Viagra!).
Nitric oxide is integral to relaxing blood vessels which is necessary for healthy blood flow to the heart, muscles, nerves and throughout the entire body. Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels maintain their flexibility so that blood flow is unrestricted – even to the smallest vessels to the peripheral nerves.
To get enough L-Citrulline for optimal circulation you’d need to eat 6 cups of watermelon or you can cut out the sugar and take a supplement. Amino acids are always recommended to take on an empty stomach for maximum absorption.
Recommended: Source Naturals L-Citrulline
To learn more about how to protect your nervous system from inflammation and oxidation and how to #biohackyourbody please visit, dremilysplichal.com
Originally printed on the Barefoot Strong Blog. Reprinted with permission from Dr. Splichal.
Dr. Emily Splichal, Podiatrist and Human Movement Specialist, is the Founder of the Evidence Based Fitness Academy and Creator of the Barefoot Training Specialist®, Barefoot Rehab Specialist® and BARE® Workout Certifications for health and wellness professionals. With over 13 years in the fitness industry, Dr. Splichal has dedicated her medical career towards studying postural alignment and human movement as it relates to foot function and barefoot training.