by Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Winter is a favorite season for health clubs and fitness centers. It’s the time when they ready their fliers and commercials to encourage everyone to join up, lose weight, and keep their New Year’s Resolution. If you invested in a gym membership earlier this year, it shows you really care about your health and are committed to improving it.
It’s also one of the little-known ways you can damage it.
After 30 years of seeing and treating many of the conditions discussed on the net, I’ve discovered a common thread to these illnesses most people aren’t aware of.
Your local fitness center may be contaminated with toxins, chemicals, worms, and parasites that can wreak havoc with your health.
Gyms Love to Sell Memberships…But are You Using Yours?
Gyms love to sell memberships. It’s a great way to ensure they’ll have a steady year-long income source from people just like you who are trying to get healthy. According to Statistic Brain.com, however, 67% of folks never use their gym membership. With the average gym membership running at anywhere from $55 to $100 per month, you could be spending over $1,000 per year just to carry a laminated card in your wallet!
Ring Worm on the Free Weights – Parasites in the Pool
If you do use your gym membership regularly, there are some health dangers you need to be aware of. Many of my patients who contract ring worm of the body (tinea corporis), scalp (tinea capitis), groin (tinea cruris), and feet (tinea pedis) have picked it up at their local gym. I have also seen many of my gym-going patients suffer severe staph infections of the skin.
As if that wasn’t enough, I have also treated patients for the parasites Giardia Lamblia and Cryptosporidium Parvum. Over the years, I’ve come to understand both these common parasitic infections often have a direct link to health clubs as these parasites can easily survive the chlorine in swimming pools and hot tubs.
Parasitic infection is often one of the most difficult health conditions to diagnose because it presents with so many different symptoms.
Let’s take a look at these symptoms in detail:
- Giardia Lamblia
The symptoms of Giardia Lamblia can begin as soon as 7 days after exposure or up to 3 weeks after exposure. The most common symptom of this parasitic infection is nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal cramping, pale, greasy stools, and explosive diarrhea.
This illness can be self-limiting and sometimes lasts only 2-4 weeks.
Most patients will need treatment, however.
- Cryptosporidium Parvum
The two most common places patients pick up the protozoan infection, Cryptosporidium Parvum, are daycare centers and health clubs. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, watery stools, fever, and dehydration. In patients with a strong immune system, these symptoms usually resolve themselves in 2-4 weeks. In immunocompromised individuals, these protozoa can linger for years or even decades, creating health problems that just don’t seem to go away.
The symptoms you’ll experience will depend on your health and the type of parasitic infection you’re dealing with.
Other symptoms of parasitic infection include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Chronic diarrhea
- Blood in stool
- Gurgling intestines
- Excessive flatulence
- Rectal itching
- Skin rashes
- “Creepy crawly” feeling on the skin
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Multiple food allergies
- Unexplained muscle twitches
- Mood swings
More Hidden Health Dangers at the Gym
In addition to the possibility of ring worm, staph, and parasitic infection, you also run the risk of health problems due to synthetic chemicals lingering on the equipment you use.
These chemicals include:
Recently, I wrote an article about the dangers of Triclosan, a synthetically-derived antibacterial and anti-fungal agent often found in antibacterial hand gels, soaps, and sanitary wipes.
This antimicrobial agent was originally designed for emergency use in hospitals only. Since it hit the mainstream, Triclosan has been wearing down the immune system and interfering with neurological function for years.
Each time you visit the gym, it is possible you are exposed to this hazardous chemical. Millions of people overuse Triclosan-containing antibacterial gel, especially at the gym, smearing it down over the free weights or elliptical machine you’re about to touch.
As a matter of fact, many of the sanitary wipes offered by health clubs contain Triclosan!
If you often swim at your local gym, you’re not only being exposed to parasites, you’re also being exposed to chlorine. Excessive chlorine exposure has been known to increase the risk of allergies and asthma. It has also been shown to increase the risk of coronary artery disease as well as bladder and rectal cancer.
- PVC Plastic
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, was once considered a miracle of modern innovation. A known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), PVC plastic can also contribute to serious hormonal imbalances, asthma, neurological dysfunction, and kidney disease. At the gym, you might encounter PVC plastic mats while doing yoga or other floor exercises.
How to Protect Yourself from the Worst of It
If you’ve already invested money in your gym membership and feel you are getting something out of it, protect yourself from the worst of the contaminants by following these simple precautions. First, if you do yoga or any other type of floor exercise classes, bring your own mat. This way, you’ll know what the material is made of and won’t have to worry about wiping down a used mat.
As I mentioned above, most gyms offer plenty of sanitary wipes to choose from but many of them contain Triclosan. I recommend wiping down the equipment with Seventh Generation Wipes, a botanical wipe, which kills 99.99% of all germs and viruses on contact. Also, shower immediately after using the gym. If you want to shower at the gym, be sure to wear thong sandals to avoid exposure to parasitic infection, staph, and fungus.
As far as the public pool, hot tub or whirlpools go, these always pose a slight potential risk of contracting parasites, no matter what. In my opinion, it’s best to avoid them completely.
A Home Gym Pays for Itself in Less Than One Year
If you’re like most people, you simply don’t have a lot of time or energy to devote to going to the gym. When you purchased the membership, you might have been on a holiday break and felt you would have enough time to drive to the gym, work out, shower, and drive home but each day you find yourself making one excuse after another. Before you know it, another year has gone by and you’ve gone to the gym only a handful of times (if that).
You can save money and improve your health at the same time by investing in a simple home gym. You don’t need any fancy equipment to get started. Just one elliptical machine or stationary bike along with a rebounder and some free weights is just enough to improve your health without breaking the bank. When weather permits, a brisk walk 3 or 4 times per week is also a good way to exercise.
When you have your gym at home, you will be much more likely to use the equipment at least 2-3 times per week. Not only will having a home gym be more convenient, it will also be much more sanitary and private.
Testing for Infectious Agents is Critical to Better Health
If you’re suffering from unusual symptoms you can’t quite explain, it’s very important to get tested for parasitic infection. I recommend Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis x 3 DD Kit. This test which evaluates for parasites, all strains of yeast, leaky gut, dysbiotic bacteria, digestive enzymes, digestion capability, and even a count of all probiotics!
The sooner you find out what’s causing your symptoms, the easier it will be to treat them and avoid future health complications.
Strengthen Your Number One Defense against Toxins and Invaders
Your number one defense against chemical toxins, ringworm, and parasites is a strong immune system. Many of my patients struggle with compromised immune systems due to overuse of antibiotics, poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle.
- Improve Your Diet
The best thing you can do for your health right now is improve your diet. If you’re eating a processed food diet filled with fast food, boxed food, and convenience food, you’re not really eating food at all; you’re eating food-like products that take a serious toll on your well-being.
For each of my patients I recommend the same thing: Slowly wean off of heavily-processed foods and begin replacing them with whole foods. The type of food you should be eating is rich in the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. These foods include organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, and healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, and olive oil.
- Take the Right Supplements
No matter how healthy your diet, you may still not be absorbing all the nutrients you need. Low stomach acid and low gut bacteria are often a hidden cause of nutrient deficiencies. You may be taking in a healthy dose of nutrients but your body just isn’t absorbing them as well as it could be. This is why I recommend adding a few essential supplements to keep your immune system strong and your health at its best.
- Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamins
If you’re taking a multivitamin now, you may want to evaluate it closely. Many have coatings and fillers which make them difficult for your body to absorb.
Diamond Nutritional’s Foundation Vitamins are a cut above the rest. They are made from ultra high-grade ingredients your body can actually absorb.
Foundation’s nutrients include:
Vitamin A – 7,500 IU
Vitamin C – 500 mg
Vitamin D3 – 500 IU
Vitamin E – 100 IU
Vitamin K – 50 mcg
Thiamine – 25 mg
Riboflavin – 25 mg
Niacin – 25 mg
Vitamin B6 – 38 mg
Folic Acid – 400 mcg
Vitamin B12 – 500 mcg
Biotin – 200 mcg
Panthothenic Acid – 150 mg
Calcium – 100 mg
Iodine – 113 mcg
Magnesium – 200 mg
Zinc – 10 mg
Selenium – 100 mcg
Copper – 1 mg
Manganese – 2.5 mg
Chromium – 200 mcg
Molybdenum – 25 mcg
Potassium – 50 mg
Choline Bitartrate USP – 50 mg
Inositol – 50 mg
Mixed Tocopherols – 50 mg
Lipoic Acid – 25 mg
N-Acetyl-Cysteine USP – 25 mg
Rutin – 25 mg
Lutein – 3 mg
Boron – 1.5 mg
Lycopene – 1 mg
Vanadyl Sulfate Hydrate – 1 mg
- Diamond Nutritional’s Probiotic Formula
Millions of people struggle with chronic gastrointestinal disorders due to a low probiotic count. That’s why I recommend adding Diamond Nutritional’s Probiotic Formula.
This formula contains a count of 22 million colony forming units to help maintain the health of the colon. It is a complete formula that contains lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus paracasei, bifidobacterium lactis, bifidobacterium bifidum, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus rhamnosus, saccharomyces boulardii.
- Diamond Nutritional’s Vitamin D3 – 5,000 IUs
A critical missing component in good immune system health is often vitamin D3. 85% of all Americans are vitamin D3 deficient and this deficiency is causing serious health problems ranging from chronic allergies to cancer. The best way to tell if any chronic illness you may be suffering from is related to vitamin D3 deficiency is to get a blood test.
For my patients, I recommend using the Vitamin D3, 25 Hydroxy Test. This test can be ordered online and taken to any LabCorp office. No need to get a doctor’s order. (However, you’re more than welcome to contact me for a consultation if you have any questions or need any help.)
Many conventional physicians recommend taking 400 IUs per day but recent studies have shown that this amount is not nearly enough for someone with a deficiency. This is why I recommend 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure each day during warmer months and in times when you cannot get outside as often, I recommend adding my Diamond Nutritional’s Vitamin D3 – 5,000 IUs supplement.
Going to the gym can be great, and it is wonderful that many people are dedicated enough to go regularly. If you’re one of them, good for you. Just be sure you prepare ahead before visiting the gym by bringing your own mat, some organic sanitary wipes, and thongs for your feet.
You should also further invest in your health by eating a whole food diet and taking the right supplements. If you’re concerned about parasites, get tested. As soon as you find out what you’re infected with, you can take steps to treat it. Before you know it, you’ll be healthier than you have been in years.