The energy we get from food helps our body to reduce inflammation, fight disease, and continue to develop power and speed through physical activity.
Many supplements exist on the market to help increase athletic performance, but none may be as effective as the nutrients provided from whole foods.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds provide essential vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy fats proteins and enzymes that regulate bodily functions and keep our cells healthy. When eaten raw and uncooked, these six foods will help keep you performing at your peak.
Alkalize Your Body with Sprouts
Eating raw fruits and vegetables is one way to ensure you are getting the most vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from the foods you eat. Raw foods contain the highest amount of nutrients and enzymes that fuel each of your body’s functions, and sprouts like radish, clover, broccoli and alfalfa are excellent sources of protein and enzymes necessary to maintain good health. Sprouts are easy to prepare, easily digested, and can help your body neutralize free radicals to create a more alkaline environment for proper cell functioning (Ipatenco, 2013).
Reduce Inflammation with Flax Seeds
Chronic inflammation in the body can lead to serious illness if left untreated, facilitating cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and autoimmune disorders. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce this inflammation and support many processes that contribute to cellular healing.
Flaxseed, which is high in omega-3s and dietary fiber, is commonly used to improve digestive health, lower cholesterol levels, and improve the body's ability to respond to insulin (Zeratsky, 2013).
Improve Endurance with Beet Juice
Beets are high in carbohydrates needed for sustained energy and contain many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Studies conducted in recent years show that some of these nutrients, particularly betaine, contribute to creatine synthesis, which improves strength and power and creates a more efficient use of oxygen in the body during endurance activities. The high nitrate content of beets may also help dilate blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the cells (Science News Daily, 2013).
Breathe Better with Hot Chili Peppers
The health benefits of vitamin C extend far beyond preventing the common cold, helping to detoxify the body, improve digestive function, and provide protection from cardiovascular disease, immune deficiency, and early degeneration of the eyes and skin (Zelman, 2013).
If you experience shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing after exercise, vitamin C could help to reduce these symptoms by nearly 50 percent (Nordqvist, 2013). Green and red chili peppers contain very high concentrations of vitamin C, and are an excellent way to spice up your meals and help you breathe easier.
Beat Fatigue with Pumpkin Seeds
If you are in good general health, but often find yourself out of breath or having difficulty controlling your heart rate during exercise, your body may be running low on iron. Iron is essential in the production of healthy red blood cells that deliver oxygen to tissues in the body.
Without enough iron in the blood, you become fatigued faster and the lack of oxygenation can affect your heart rate and immune function. Squash and pumpkin seeds are a great source of plant-based iron, and are packed with fiber, healthy fats and protein.
Stimulate Recovery with Brazil Nuts
Intense exercise can be hard on your body, and proper recovery is essential to improving your strength. Healthy fats and foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals can help improve immune and thyroid function as well as protect and repair bones and connective tissue. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of proteins, fats and other essential nutrients, such as B-vitamins, selenium, and and magnesium (Cespedes, 2010). Just a few each day can stimulate your natural recovery processes, helping you build and maintain strong bones and muscles.
Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Las Vegas based company offering motivational lifestyle coaching and personal training services. She takes a holistic approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of nutrition, exercise, and emotional health. Visit www.ablemindablebody.com for more info.