Hammer’s Four Pillars for Health and Wellness

Diet advice we’ve stood by for over 33 years


BY ENDURANCE NEWS STAFF

We’ve been helping people achieve peak performance and supreme health for over 33 years. Over those three decades, our recommendations for staying healthy and consuming a good diet have remained constant, while countless diets have come and gone. The basis of everything we do is diet, because what you eat affects everything in your life. Here are the four pillars of Hammer’s dietary recommendations, which we’ve stood by since 1987.

EAT LOCALLY GROWN, ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS

We readily admit that no one can fulfill nutritional needs from diet alone and that supplementation is essential. Yet, in the same breath, we’re equally adamant that:

1. Consistent consumption of the best diet possible must be the top priority, ahead of supplementation.

2. Choosing and consuming locally grown, organic foods as much as possible is vital.

Regarding the first point, the primary reason to try and eat the healthiest diet possible—primarily a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables—is NOT for their vitamin and mineral content, but for the nearly countless health-benefiting phytochemicals that are found only in fruits and vegetables. One example is a naturally occurring flavonoid found in various fruits (mainly strawberries) called fisetin. Research has shown that fisetin not only has strong antioxidant properties (which helps neutralize the negative effects of free radicals); it also appears to have numerous other health-boosting properties. Your best opportunity to give your body adequate amounts of fisetin is to eat whole strawberries and other fisetin-containing foods. Ditto for every other fruit and vegetable; you can only obtain the myriad health-benefiting nutrients they contain by eating them.

The second point is that locally grown, organic foods are picked at their peak ripeness, and have a shorter time from harvest to your consumption of them. That means higher amounts of that food’s beneficial vitamin/mineral/phytonutrient content for your body. Conventionally grown food is harvested early to allow for shipment and distribution to stores, and over time its nutrient content will diminish. Additionally, most (if not all) local growers adopt organic growing practices, which produces clean pure food, free of pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.

AVOID SUGAR

In his welcome letter, Brian appropriately called out sugar as “the heinous, evil substance that it truly is.” “Sugar,” he adds, “is the devil!” For as long as there has been a Hammer Nutrition, our position has always been to limit—and we mean e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y limit—the amount of sugar you consume. The negative health issues associated with sugar are far too many to list here, but some of the most serious ones are heart disease, type II diabetes, and several cancers. Want more? How about over 140 more! Check out the article "146 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health" by the highly respected nutritional scientist, Dr. Nancy Appleton, on our website.

Take to heart the introduction to the article:

“When you read the following list of science-referenced, healthcompromising consequences that are associated with sugar consumption, we are hopeful that it will have a profound impact on you. Remember, what you put in your body determines what you get out of it performance-wise. That's true not only when you're training and racing, but more importantly for everyday living.”

LIMIT SODIUM

Excess sodium—via processed foods, salting your food, etc.—may not be the devil, but it’s darn close. Sodium is, of course, vital for health. However, far too many of us—9 out of 10 Americans, according to the American Heart Association (AHA)—are consuming too much. The Daily Value for sodium for adults is 2300 mg, with the AHA recommending an even lower, 1500 mg/day amount. Unfortunately, the average intake is 3400 mg daily, an amount that’s more than double the AHA’s recommendation.

Younger people are also consuming too much.

  • The average intake for 6-10 years old is 2900 mg per day
  • The average intake for 14-18 years old is 3700 mg per day

Clearly, we are all consuming too much sodium, and it not only negatively affects our athletic performance— and it negatively affects our athletic performance and has some very serious health consequences. “Sodium— The Real Villain” (pages 40-41 in Endurance News #121), provides the sobering facts. One eye-opening finding from the research in that should make you take action:

The researchers found that nearly 58,000 cardiovascular deaths each year in the United States could be attributed to daily sodium consumption greater than 2.0 grams.

The undeniable truth is that too much sodium is a killer, and reducing your risk of life-threatening health consequences can only happen by lowering the amount of sodium in your diet.

SUPPLEMENT

If you want to look, feel, and perform your best, the first step is always a diet dominated by nutrient dense whole foods. However, diet alone will no longer suffice. The main reason to eat whole foods is for their health-benefiting phytonutrients—but to obtain ideal amounts of these vitally important nutrients, you must supplement. If you want to achieve your best performances in exercise sessions and events—and, even more importantly, enjoy optimal health (not minimal, optimal!)—then daily supplementation is a necessity, not an option.

One of our recent articles, “The Balanced Diet Myth and the Case for Supplementation,” includes the following statement from Dr. Bruce Ames: “Inadequate dietary intakes of vitamins and minerals are widespread, most likely due to excessive consumption of energy-rich, micronutrient-poor, refined food. Inadequate intakes may result in chronic metabolic disruption, including mitochondrial decay.”

So, consume an optimal diet as consistently as possible and augment that with sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and auxiliary/ complementary nutrients. This is the best way to more completely cover all your nutritional bases, allowing you to achieve higher-quality workouts, better results in your events, and, most importantly, superior health.

BOTTOM LINE

Eating a healthy diet with plenty of locally-grown, organic whole goods, very little sugar, low salt, and a robust supplement regimen will help you achieve optimum diet and nutrition. Peak performance and supreme health start here.

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