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Liverdamage from IM-training?
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The most wellknown nutritionist in Sweden stated in a seminar, which was quoted on Swedish TV, that he would never ever run a marathon and thought that Ironman triathlons were ludicrous and that both events (and lifestyle) were harmful to a persons health and specifically the liver.

His argument was that the huge amounts of free radicals produced through exercise, and the equally huge amounts of antioxidants we strive to consume in order to restrict cellular damage (from the free radicals) would have a longterm effect on the liver.

He actually went as far as comparing the liver of longtime IM-individuals to alcoholics..

Iīm in Arizona right now training and we have some medical expertise on hand and they donīt get his argumentation. Is the liver at all involved in the process of ridding the body of free radicals?
Isnīt this entire process of radicals and antioxidants taking place on a cellular level?

I just want to have some opinions so I can trash this guys arguments since by all means an IM-lifestyle is far healthier than the average Joeīs sedentary one..
Last edited by: Jonas: Mar 27, 08 14:19
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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The liver regenerates :) Not to worry.
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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You may want to try getting in touch with IMNZ. There was a study by a university in 2004 on immediate post race renal function. My liver was pretty sad at the end of the race according to their numbers. IMNZ may be able to put you in touch with those who conducted the study. It's not so useful in an evaluation of the IM lifestyle but could be a piece of the puzzle in looking at immediate IM effect on the body.


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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
The most wellknown nutritionist in Sweden stated in a seminar, which was quoted on Swedish TV, that he would never ever run a marathon and thought that Ironman triathlon were ludicrous and that both events (and lifestyle) were harmful to a persons health and specifically the liver.
His argument was that the huge amounts of free radicals produced through exercise, and the equally huge amounts of antioxidants we strive to consume in order to restrict cellular damage (from the free radicals) would have a longterm effect on the liver.
He actually went as far as comparing the liver of longtime IM-individuals to alcoholics..

Iīm in Arizona right now training and we have some medical expertise on hand and they donīt get his argumentation. Is the liver at all involved in the process of ridding the body of free radicals? Isnīt this entire process of radicals and antioxidants taking place on a cellular level?

I just want to have some opinions so I can trash this guys arguments since by all means an IM-lifestyle is far healthier than the average Joeīs sedentary one..
I suppose if you get dehydrated enough, the liver could have problems filtering the blood as it thickens up, but if you are at that point you're going to have other problems way before then. What is he calling 'antioxidants' that he is so worried that the liver wouldn't be able to filter it out without damage?

John



Top notch coaching: Francois and Accelerate3 | Follow on Twitter: LifetimeAthlete |
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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I'm not an expert or anything but I'm guessing the free radicals occur during cell metabolism which occurs mostly in the mitochondria which is a cell organelle....so hopefully the experts out there will chime in and present more precise correct info...

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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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Man, and I thought it was the booze that was going to get me... now this? ;-)

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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [cyclenutnz] [ In reply to ]
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I can see that the kidneys will oftentimes have a hard time especially if one often borders on dehydration. And maybe the liver as well as the kidney will have to work overtime just after an event in ridding the body from all tissue damage or/and lactic acid.

But in this case, with free radicals and antioxidants, whatīs up with that?
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [cyclenutnz] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
You may want to try getting in touch with IMNZ. There was a study by a university in 2004 on immediate post race renal function. My liver was pretty sad at the end of the race according to their numbers. IMNZ may be able to put you in touch with those who conducted the study. It's not so useful in an evaluation of the IM lifestyle but could be a piece of the puzzle in looking at immediate IM effect on the body.
I think renal=kidney, and hepatic=liver.
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [140pt6] [ In reply to ]
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That's exactly what I thought. If I have to give up one, IM or beer, to save my liver, which is it going to be?
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [avatar78] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
In Reply To:
You may want to try getting in touch with IMNZ. There was a study by a university in 2004 on immediate post race renal function. My liver was pretty sad at the end of the race according to their numbers. IMNZ may be able to put you in touch with those who conducted the study. It's not so useful in an evaluation of the IM lifestyle but could be a piece of the puzzle in looking at immediate IM effect on the body.
I think renal=kidney, and hepatic=liver.

Good point. There were a number of parameters listed but it's a long time ago and for some reason I fixated on the kideny figure, I think they looked at the liver too


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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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Jonas,
I think the burden of PROOF versus idle speculation is with your Swedish presenter. Show us the specific medical findings and a long term study that shows the speculation to be valid. Just showing that liver or kidney blood tests are abnormal immediately after a race is pretty meaningless and expected ... the speculation that that would imply injury related to free radicals or a long term injury would require a well put together scientific study. Ask for the study .... if it doesn't exist, then the speculation is just meaningless. The only clear conclusion if that is the case is that the person doesn't like to do marathons or triathlons ... so who cares???
Dave
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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Thats really weird. I was just reading an article in a nutrition journal a few days ago that claims that fast food and too little exercise is causing liver damage. Sounds like a case of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.

But here's the good news for those who like exercise and booze- the herb milk thistle is being touted as a possible preventative cure for liver damage:

http://www.myfit.ca/...e+-+Silybum+Marianum
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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I assume he is referring to something about the fact that the liver plays such a huge role in carbo/glucose redistribution.

While I'll be in AZ for my 15th IM, I can see some not-too-crazy reasoning behind his comments.
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I assume he is referring to something about the fact that the liver plays such a huge role in carbo/glucose redistribution.

While I'll be in AZ for my 15th IM, I can see some not-too-crazy reasoning behind his comments.
Glycogen storage and glucose-glycogen conversion, but again, if you are at that point where the liver is being damaged because it can't meet the demands, the body will be cannabalizing other sources and shutting down unnecessary systems to protect the important stuff. I'd have to see some long term studies before I would believe that endurance events damage the liver.

John



Top notch coaching: Francois and Accelerate3 | Follow on Twitter: LifetimeAthlete |
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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The liver does process a good bit of the lactate you produce during exercise and turns it into glucose but then again so does your heart. I'll have to check this out.



-Jason

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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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The more you train, the more you need to recover.
Beer is a good recovery drink.
...
I can see where a lot of training could lead to liver damage ;)
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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He is wrong and right.

Training will increase your antioxidant defenses in general and will make a healthy "system" even stronger (adaptation).
Although, by design, we already have several systems apart from the natural occuring antioxidants in place that can deal with quite some insult before damage occurs....

Taking a HUGE amount of commmercially available antioxidants orally (that you would have to take to get some of it to your pinky finger) certainly poses the risk of doing damage to your intestine and they WILL end up in the liver and kidneys. When you think of every anti-oxidant being a pro-oxidant, I would agree with him that there are some concerns regarding toxicology. Last time I looked, antioxidants are not FDA regulated, and IMO, their double-edged nature is well documented in peer-reviewed publications.

He is also right about the fact that extreme endurance exercise will pose an immense stress even on a strong system. Endurance fanatics are also more inclined to push their system past their limits more often than an untrained person, meaning that the accumulated damage may result in a worse outcome.

Just read up on studies for liver- or heart enzymes after an IM --- all the damage indicators are up through the roof.... would get you admitted to an ER if you hadn't done an IM before).

In summary, when a very strong system gets overwhelmend again and again, the damage may be worse.
So, yes, extreme endurance RACING (meaning frequently exceeding your bodies natural limits to cope with catabolic processes and damage) is, longterm not beneficial to your health....

This is, AFAIK, the general consensus in the scientific community.

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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [de-tri-mental] [ In reply to ]
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"...So, yes, extreme endurance RACING (meaning frequently exceeding your bodies natural limits to cope with catabolic processes and damage) is, longterm not beneficial to your health...."

I have this thought, but would like to pose the following questions...."what is the impact of repeatedly pushing your body past reasonably natural limits of intensity (that perhaps our caveman forefathers would have endured) during interval sessions several times per week over multiple years?

On the one hand there are my couch potato colleagues who stress themselves perhaps only a few times a year to the extent that the caveman would in a week...then there are endurance junkies like myself and others on the board, who "consume the average weekly caveman intensity quota" daily or multiple times per day...

Where is the line?
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [de-tri-mental] [ In reply to ]
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getting tested after a long race shows all kinds of bad markers. As others have said, they would admit you for this and they would admit you for heart issues. It looks very much like you had a heart attack.

A few thoughts . . .
#1 I think athletes are nuts to think that doing an IM or an ultra marathon or even possibly a 26.2 does not have negative side effects. It has to. It is taking the body beyond reasonable limits. Pushing yourself makes you stronger. But there is a point where it start to turn back the other way.
#2 I think too many endurance athletes are way to quick to drop the 'it is better than being 300lbs and sitting around all day' reply. This is clearly true, but it implies there is no middle ground.

This is not in any way an anti-endurance post. It is just what I think is reality. I think these endeavors are great and the people that do them are amazing. I just think like many things there are downsides. So what? Like anything else, we weigh risk and reward and decide.
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Jonas] [ In reply to ]
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I had a physical last year that included a liver function test. They had me go back to retest a few weeks later because my it was not good. They never really told me the severity of the bad test, but it was back in normal limits on the second test. The first test was after a hard week of training and the second was after a few days off.

They did ask me if I had done any strenuous exercise before the test after the bad results.

So either the liver regenerated (which it does) or they screwed up the first test (which I don't think they did). As for long term damage I don't know. But I don't see any of the pro's (triathlon/running/cycling) having problems with it.
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [indygreg] [ In reply to ]
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Indygreg...see my post above...I really don't think that a single marathon, or Ironman once per year is going to really hammer the body in the long term.

I think what gets us is the day in day out repeated stress from the training, combined with insufficient recovery, using the North American "lack of sleep as a badge of honour" , coupled with a highly processed diet with way too much sugar and sat fat.

If you could do Ironman or 26.2 or something shorter that is high stess without the repeated daily stress of training (clearly impossible), then the stress load of one day is something that the body could likely deal with....but 330 days of high stress out of 365 is cumulative high stress load on the body.

So on the one hand, consistent day in day out training makes us faster, but its also that very same trait that hammers us....where's the line...1 hour per day with 7 hours of sleep, 2 hours per day with 8 hours of sleep, 3 hours per day with 9 hours of sleep (as you can see the more you train and more sleep you need to recover, the less time for the rest of life...which in itself becomes stressful) ....

Dev
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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I agree. I am not saying that an IM or 26.2 or ultra is going to cause serious long term issues. By any means. I just am saying that there is a cost. I have no idea how to quantify that.

I think the cost is obviously higher for a IM than a 26.2, but I think the 26.2 is in general probably more of an issue because so many do it when they are not properly trained.

I agree . . . it is a culmination of so many things. Lack of sleep in most Americans is already bad. Adding 20 hours training a week only ads to that.

But to iterate again - I am not saying these events are threats to your life or will shorten your life by any measurable amount. Just that there has to be a damaging side to putting your body through that.

I do not have the information in front of me, but I think I read that competitive cyclists (which arguably train as hard and as much as anyone) do not live very long. There are possible variables (like performance enhancing drug use) that could be factors. In fact, I believe elite athletes of all kinds live shorter lives that the general population. I would argue that they probably live a better shorter life. :)
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [indygreg] [ In reply to ]
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Indygreg, I actually started asking that athletes that I am helping to train for Ironman LP to track their weekly cumulative totals for sleep. I was shocked by how little most sleep. Tracking the work+rest, provides me with a better picture on how an athlete is dealing with an overall stress load.

Right now an entire generation of athletes are serving as guinea pigs for a long term lifestyle vs medical impact study and we don't even realize it. There was a wave of citizen athletes that went through doing marathons 20 years ago, but arguably they did not even do close to the hours that we do.

In fact, I was in a hotel in Korea after the Seoul marathon and was talking to some elite Kenyan runners...."How many hours per week do you guys train...."....answer "Around 15 hours per week"

Now, keep in mind that in "2 hours per day" (split into 2 runs), these guys are doing 250-300K per week...regardless, these are elite athletes....we have thousands of relatively ill prepared non elite athletes, without athlete backgrounds, jumping into doing Ironman and training 15 hours per week within a few years of "ramping".

Its the masses who have jumped into doing 10-25 hours a week....what is the impact in the long term? Then there are "lifers" like myself, generally on the 2 hour per day training average for multiple years...is this too much...I "look healthier" than the average 42 year old as do my tri peers...but are we?

Dev
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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great post and great questions!
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Re: Liverdamage from IM-training? [Gator1736] [ In reply to ]
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If I have to give up one, IM or beer, to save my liver, which is it going to be?[/quote] IM, that is the easiest question I've heard all month. Next.

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