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Eat well, stay healthy and keep running

Eat well, stay healthy and keep running



Whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner, a balanced diet is not only important for keeping your body healthy, but it is crucial for improving overall performance. Regardless of how hard you are training, eating the right food to keep yourself well nourished is vital.

One of the most important things you can do is feeding your body with foods that give you enough calories to replace energy expenditures as well as provide vitamins and minerals to support your immune system and speed up recovery after training. Good nutrition can be a powerful, simple and wise strategy to get yourself away from illness and injuries.

A varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables and high quality complex carbohydrates sources can provide all the necessary nutrients for endurance athletes, according to dr. James Loomis, medical director of Barnard Medical Center. Dr. Loomis says that those types of food have more antioxidants that combat exercise-induced oxidative stress, accelerating muscle repair and recovery due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, they are proven to be the best sources of vitamins and minerals that meet all the nutritional needs not only for athletes but also for people in general.


We have chosen some of the best foods you can implement in your diet to boost your immune system and stay stronger and healthier.


Leafy greens


There is a great variety of leafy greens and depending on the type they may taste better raw or cooked. Leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Vitamin B, C and K that keep your immune system strong and help your body heal quickly;

  • Magnesium that improves muscle function and energy production;

  • Good source of calcium to protect your bones;

  • Folate that improves the production of healthy new blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.


Some of the healthiest leafy greens that you could include in your diet are kale, collard greens, arugula, romaine lettuce, mustard greens and bok choy.



Fruits


Fruits provide phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins, particularly antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene and are also an excellent source of carbohydrates. Fruits contain a specific type of carbohydrate called fructose that, once in your body, is converted into glucose which will be rapidly available in the bloodstream to supply your energy requirements. That is why, as an athlete, fruits can also optimize your performance.


Although we can consider all fruits very healthy, some provide great benefits for those who are committed to a serious training routine.


Bananas are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to regulate fluid balance, normal blood pressure and the electrical activity of the heart. It also regulates muscle contraction, preventing cramps and fatigue. Moreover, they contain a large amount of carbohydrates to fuel your body during your training session.


Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerine, lime and grapefruit also contain good amounts of potassium. In addition, one portion of citrus fruit contains more than your daily nutritional requirement of vitamin C. This vitamin is essential to maintain healthy bones and teeth, protects your DNA from damage and helps to absorb iron, calcium and zinc from your diet. It is also important for the body to heal and repair tissues and reduce inflammation. They seem to be a good alternative for post-training recovery meal as they contain carbohydrates and a good amount of water, combining an adequate intake of calories and hydration.


Berries are lower in sugar than most other fruits, however they have a type of antioxidant called proanthocyanidins, a class of polyphenols, which prevents free radical damage and may help to minimize post-exercise muscle soreness by reducing inflammation, improving rate of recovery for muscle contraction.


Rice


Rice has been a traditional food in many countries for years and became even more popular for those who want to adopt a gluten-free diet. Rice is a good source of complex carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins, especially B-vitamins. It is easily digested, even in large quantities, which is particularly important for athletes with very high calories requirements.

Some nutrition experts advocate that people should eat brown rice instead of white due to its higher contents of vitamins and fibre. However, it should not be a problem to eat white rice as long as you have adequate intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre from other sources such as vegetables and fruits. Moreover, white rice and brown rice have slightly different calorie density which means they will provide almost the same amount of calories per portion. 


Legumes


Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, lentils, green peas, garbanzo beans and many others. They are very nutritious, usually low in fat, high in folate, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. They also contain beneficial soluble and insoluble fibre and are a good source of proteins. 


Legumes and beans are a great choice for a recovery meal because they are a good source of protein combined with B-vitamins and minerals that help athletes to replenish nutrients they have used during exercise. They are very affordable and you can eat them in different ways.

Legumes usually contain phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that binds minerals in the digestive tract, making them less available to your body. However, some preparation methods can help to reduce the amount of phytic acid in foods such as high temperature cooking, soaking, sprouting and fermentation. Some studies actually have found many benefits in phytic acid as it has shown to be a potent antioxidant that decreases the risk of colon cancer and protects against other inflammatory bowel diseases. 


In conclusion, your body is the most powerful tool to achieve optimal performance. That is why it is so important to fuel it with the best quality food you can find near home. Avoid saturated fat and processed food as they are potentially harmful to your health and have no nutritional value, providing high doses of “empty” calories. Highly processed food and saturated fat lead to inflammation and are linked to various chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease, to name a few.

Try to buy organics as much as possible as they don’t have pesticides and are more environmentally sustainable. By doing so, you choose products that are good for your health, support farmers and companies that are committed to making the world better and help to protect the natural environment and wildlife.