As we all strive to improve our health and evolve our food choices to a more plant-based diet, it is easy to get lost along the way. When you transition to a healthier diet, it is important to educate yourself about the nutrients your body will need on a daily basis. Your body requires the right mix of essential nutrients to function optimally and keep you healthy. To master nutrition basics, you need to know both about food groups and the role that specific nutrients play in your diet. Understanding eating principles will help raise the value of even small amounts of physical activity by quickly aiding cellular tissue repair, thereby reducing biological age and body fat. Proper exercise, followed by high-quality nutrition will dramatically increase the effectiveness of the exercise itself, without the need to increase its duration or intensity.
Here are the eight key nutrients for better performance
High-temperature cooking and processing of food destroys enzymes (a substance produced by a living organism that acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction) and nutrients needed for efficient digestion. Before the body can make use of cooked food, it must produce enzymes to aid in the digestion process. Food containing both sugar and fat cooked at a high temperature can provoke an immune response that causes inflammation.
Plant-Based Sources: fruit, nuts, seeds, and most vegetables. Vegetables that contain a high amount of starch such as potatoes and sweet potatoes are best eaten cooked and only occasionally.
- Improves digestibility of most foods
- Maintains higher nutritional value in most foods
- Provides higher net gain, more energy
Phytonutrients are plants compounds that offer health benefits independent of their nutritional value. They are not essential for life, but they can help improve vitality and quality of life. When eaten after exercise, they reduce aches and pains and speed recovery. They may also reduce the risk of developing arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Best sources: fruits, vegetables, chia
- Improves heart health
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improves blood vessel elasticity, thereby improving circulation
Iron helps maintain the health of red blood cells so that the body can deliver oxygen-rich blood to the hard-working extremities-maximizing efficacy. It also builds blood proteins essential for food digestion, metabolism, and circulation. People with low iron are at risk for anemia. Dietary iron helps counteract these problems.
Best Plant Based Sources: pumpkin seeds, leafy greens. Vega One contains 100 percent of the recommended daily allowances.
- Improves blood’s oxygen-carrying ability
- Increases physical stamina
- Boosts Energy
Electrolytes are electricity-conducting salts. Calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and sodium are the chief electrolyte minerals. When too few of these minerals are ingested, we may suffer muscle cramps, light-headedness and trouble concentrating. You may have noticed salt-like crystals forming on your face when you sweat heavily. Those are electrolytes-what’s left when the water component of sweat has evaporated and they have to be replenished through food and drink. To ensure peak efficacy and improve workout quality, sip an electrolyte drink throughout your workout. Most commercial sport drinks contain unnecessary refined sugar and artificial flavor and color.
Best Natural Sources: coconut water, molasses and molasses sugar
Secondary sources: bananas, tomatoes, celery
- Helps maintain hydration
- Improves fluidity of muscle contractions
- Increases the heart efficiency, lowers heart rate, improves endurance
- Boost mental clarity
Essential Fatty Acids are an important dietary component of overall health. Responsible in part for the cells’ ability to receive nutrition and eliminate waste, they play an integral role in repair and regeneration of cells. Combined with proper endurance training, a diet with adequate supply of essential fatty acids can help improve endurance. Essential Fatty Acids support the function of the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems.
Best sources: chia, flax, and hemp all contain a balance of both omega-3 and omega-6
- Improves endurance
- Increases the body’s ability to burn body fat as fuel
- Improves ability to stay well hydrated
- Improves joint function
About 95 percent of the body’s calcium is stored in skeleton, but it’s the remaining few percent that is the first to decline. Calcium in the bloodstream is lost in sweat and muscle contractions, so active people need more dietary calcium. Plants take inorganic calcium from the soil and convert it into an organic form of calcium that the human body can efficiently and completely make use of. Consuming an adequate supply of organic calcium from such sources as leafy green vegetables will ensure that bones stay strong and that muscle contractions remain smooth and efficient.
Best usable plant sources: dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens; sesame seeds
- Improves muscle function
- Increases bone strength
- Reduces risk of osteoporosis
Antioxidants in foods help to rid the body of free radicals by escorting them out of the body. Antioxidants compounds found in fruit and vegetables-vitamin C and vitamin E, cancel out the effects of the cell-damaging free radicals by slowing or preventing the oxidation process.
Best sources: berries, fruit in general, green tea
- Protects cellular health
- Speeds physical recovery
- Reduces risk of disease
- Improves skin appearance and elasticity
To help your muscles recover and lower your cortisol levels, consume highly alkalizing foods, such as those rich in chlorophyll, soon after exercise. Chlorophyll is a substance extracted from green plants and used as a coloring agent or deodorant.
- Improves bone strength
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves muscle efficiency
- Reduces risk of disease
Nutrition is very important for change. Once we detach ourselves from foods that make us weak we begin to evolve lighter & wiser