Sports Nutrition’s Overlooked Superfoods for Optimal Health

Happy to be back on the Cali Collective Blog! In my last post we discussed balancing your Macronutrient levels (protein, fat & carb) to meet the demands of optimal performance! This is the very foundation that gives you the energy and strength to meet your goals in any sport. When we feed ourselves adequately our energy stores (glucose & glucagon) refuel, while our muscle fibers regenerate (proteins) and our cells detox and regenerate (healthy fatty acids & H2O.) When the macros are dialed you should feel ready to take it on! This isn’t always the case though; that’s when super foods come into play! Whether you are a daily charger or a weekend warrior, superfoods have the capacity to enhance mental clarity, quick-twitch muscle response and cardiovascular/muscular endurance.

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Beets

Research suggests that consuming beet juice pre-workout boosts endurance due to the beet’s naturally occurring nitrate compound which: 1) lowers blood pressure & 2) reduces the amount of oxygen required by muscles during an event. The study found that, on average, runners were able to go 15% longer after drinking 8 fl oz. of beet juice than the placebo. Pretty impressive! For a little icing on the cake… endurance is not the only exercise variable the beet ramps up. How about some additional speed? A 2012 study concludes that not only do beets ramp up endurance, but they also help you cut time at the finish line (shaving 41 second from a 5k run.) Also impressive.

+Don’t have a juicer? No problem; there is a correlation between endurance and speed and eating a whole beet/day leading up to your given event.

Turmeric

I genuinely believe this little root should be in every athlete’s diet! It’s been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for inflammatory conditions. Research has shown Curcumin (the active anti-inflammatory in Turmeric) to interact with numerous molecular targets involved in inflammation. Research backs its capacity to treat IBD, arthritis and particular cancers! When you are working the body it will will become inflamed, period! You may come home with a sore shoulder, hip, neck, or all the above. I suggest getting Turmeric on board ASAP instead of liver damaging ibuprofen (research also backs this.) It finds its place in my diet simmered in coconut milk to create a delicious Turmeric Latte (Golden Milk) or grated into my homemade salad dressing! Turmeric’s medicinal agent Curcumin is also tipping the scale as a powerful antidepressant better than SSRIS (and without the many nasty side effects!) Feeling mentally burnt after a full day of training? Feed two birds with one seed with this amazing Superfood!

+ Helpful tip: Use one part Black Pepper to 200 parts Turmeric. The pepper aids in the body’s absorption of Curcumin.

Golden Milk

Ingredients:

2 cans coconut milk (Trader Joe’s has BPA free cans)

1.5 cans water

3 – 6 nubs of turmeric* (skinned and chopped or grated)

1/5 cup coconut sugar

1/4 tsp of black pepper

Instructions:

1. Chop or grate turmeric.

2. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes are up strain the Turmeric from the milk (if you

choose.)

4. Cup, revitalize and enjoy.

Green Tea

Green tea is not only packed with a plethora of anti-oxidants (EGCG) to bring down inflammation after your workouts, but it can also be used to change body composition! A 2006 study by Kao Corporation in Japan concluded that green tea improved the ability of muscle cells to use fat for energy: up to 17% greater fatty acid oxidation! I absolutely love using Matcha Green tea in a latte similar to the Golden Milk recipe. It can also be used in warm water or in your AM yogurt or smoothie! The Matcha form of Green Tea is actually higher in many of the good things: EGCG, L-theanine (increases the feeling of relaxation in the brain) and probiotics to feed healthy gut bacteria! If you are looking to pick some up it can be found hiding in the refrigerated section of your local natural foods store (it’s next to the produce at Sunrise.)

Broken Bone Soup

Broken Bone Soup has to be my absolute favorite Superfood for anyone! It’s a love affair spanning half a decade! Love it and I hope, if you have yet to try it, that you will find the gumption to bring it into your weekly dietary routine! Bone broth possesses many elements to make it the perfect post workout recovery food! Collagen is extracted from the joints of the bones through preparation. This collagen is absorbed into our body and utilized directly in the healing of overworked joints (and intestines!) The more coagulated the broth is once cooled, the higher the collagen and thus higher medicinal qualities! In my kitchen I find that beef bones produce the greatest amount of collagen. Check with your local organic rancher to find yummy bones! Ensuring they are organic, grass-fed and grass-finished assures that you get all of the good stuff. Bone broth is also high in micronutrients such as Potassium & Glucosamine, which play important roles in recovery; in addition to Amino Acids (which make up a complete protein) that work to replenish over worked muscles and neurotransmitters! These are often supplemented by athletes to reduce joint pain and cramping! Supplements for $30 or bones for $3, you decide…

+ 1 Big mug for recovery! Heck throw your grated Turmeric and dash of Pepper in it for the ultimate post workout “supplement!”

Thanks again!

If you have any awesome questions or insight you can find me at gretchendunbar.mscn@gmail.com or at Auburn Naturopathic Medicine in Auburn, CA. I look forward to following this blog up with another post on balancing female hormones through whole foods nutrition (a passion of mine.) In the meantime be well & see ya out there!

Author Gretchen Dunbar is the Co-Owner of Mountain Folk’s Broth Co. who’s mission is to bring ancient nourishment to the modern day. In stores summer 2016. Photo: Lillian Ware

References:

Teta, J., & Teta, K. (2010). The New Metabolic Effect Diet. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Robinson, Jo (2014.) Eating On the Wild Side. Little, Brown and Company. New York.

Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):277.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):778-84.

Science. 1993 Sep 24;261(5129):1727-30.

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