It goes without saying that athletes have to be in tip-top physical condition if they are to excel at their chosen sport. As well as exercising regularly to stay fit, it is also essential that athletes eat a healthy diet to fuel their bodies with the necessary goodness. This is both true of their general day to day food choices and also the foods they eat before and after a workout.
What About Supplements?
Although there are several supplement products on the market that can be of great use to athletes, consuming a wide range of wholesome, healthy foods can be the best weapon there is! When a person makes a conscious effort to eat a balanced diet, it dramatically lowers the risk of nutrient deficiency, and means that there is much less necessity to turn to supplements.
Eating for Optimum Health
Certain foods have the ability to provide plentiful energy, fight inflammation, aid muscle recovery, and to improve stamina and blood flow. All of these things are important to competitive athletes who are constantly striving to have an edge over those they are competing with.
Flaxseeds are arguably one of the best foods for fighting inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation will help to prevent disease and aid cell recovery. This is useful for athletes as they need their bodies to recover from intense exertion as quickly as possible. Additionally flaxseeds are high in dietary fibre which is great for digestive health.
There is evidence that flaxseeds have been enjoyed as a food for at least the last 6,000 years! This demonstrates how appreciated they have continued to be over the years as a serious source of well-being.
When it comes to plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are a top choice. They are also an incredible source of lignans, which are compounds that have extensive health benefits. For example, lignans help to balance the hormones, boost cardiovascular health and to lower cholesterol levels.
Research has shown that drinking beet juice can help to increase endurance. This is thought to be because beets are high in carbohydrates, which are necessary for sustaining energy in the body. Furthermore, certain nutrients found within beets aid the improvement of strength. These nutrients also help the body to use oxygen more efficiently.
Beets are not only bursting with antioxidants and fiber, but they also contain an abundance of vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium and folate. Excitingly, they are also a rich source of phytonutrients known as betalains. Research has shown betalains to have powerful detoxifying, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Beets contain beneficial amounts of lycopene, which can help to protect the skin from the sun and help it to keep its elasticity. This is particularly useful for athletes who spend a large amount of their time outside.
When it comes to tackling fatigue, pumpkin seeds are the perfect choice. They are high in iron, which is essential for the production of red blood cells. Having an adequate amount of healthy red blood cells is important because they are responsible for delivering oxygen around the body. When a person is experiencing an iron deficiency, they will quickly become fatigued and their immune system can also become compromised. When we consider that pumpkin seeds are also full of healthy fats and protein then it is evident that there is even more reason to include them in the diet regularly.
Finally, Brazil nuts are known to be full of vitamins and minerals that will help to keep bones healthy, as well as repairing damage to connective tissue in the body. These delicious nuts contain something known as ellagic acid, which has serious anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been suggested that ellagic acid can be neuroprotective.
The high selenium presence in Brazil nuts is great for lifting the mood and keeping depression at bay, both of which are things that can enable an athlete to perform better and stay motivated.
Even including just a few Brazil nuts in the diet each day can help to improve the natural recovery process of the body.
Making Positive Choices
Even if you are not an athlete, or interested in sport at all, there is still much to be gained from including these foods in your diet regularly. They are absolutely bursting with goodness, and in the right amounts they can be great for supporting essential functions in the body. Furthermore, these foods are super versatile and can be included in a range of dishes. So, don't limit yourself when it comes to your food choices and do not be afraid to try new things! Not only will your taste buds thank you when you start to venture away from your usual choices, but your health and happiness can soon start to soar!