At times in the history of mankind, he deduced that hunting wild game was difficult, time consuming and often risky. With this realization came the caveman record of “there’s gotta be a better way!”
Some caveman (ok…probably a cavewoman…you know how stubborn we men are!) looked around and noticed all the green stuff all over. Maybe his keen sense of smell noticed how fresh the stuff smelled, as well. He certainly had to notice that there were a lot more leafy greens than available deer, antelope or mammoths.
So hunter gatherers began eating green and raw foods. Good for them, and good for us! Unfortunately, with the rise in world populations, the agricultural and industrial revolutions and the advent of the “instant gratification” lifestyle, Americans moved away from farm-fresh and towards pre-processed, pre-packaged and junk foods. Green foods and vegetables in general are making a “comeback” thanks to better education and lots of fear-inducing news stories about obesity, heart disease and other large scale health problems.
While green foods are claimed to have health benefits including improved immune function, better digestion, improvements in eyesight, brain function and heart health, I’d like to focus on the benefits to athletes of consuming green and raw foods (vegetables.)
Athletic performance is aided by consumption of fresh vegetables and green foods by virtue of the fact that these carbohydrate sources are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes.
Vitamins and minerals, while not a direct source of energy, aid the body in regulating metabolism and breaking down energy sources from foods. Enzymes also assist this process. A diet rich in raw and green foods, as well as vegetables in general, will therefore result in higher levels of energy absorption from food sources.
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Recovery time between exercises, sports activity or workouts is enhanced by the consumption of green and raw foods. The chlorophyll contained in green veggies helps increase oxygen uptake in the body. This, in turn, helps flush lactic acid, allowing muscles to recover quicker and more fully. Increased oxygen uptake also means better muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance for athletes.
Antioxidants also help to reduce inflammation in muscles and joints. This helps avoid missed workouts, games, meets or matches. Pain is a great limiter, and inflammation causes pain. Eating greens and raw foods may just help you stay in the game!
What are “green foods?” Simple; they’re vegetables of various types. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus), leafy greens (Romaine lettuce, green, red, Boston or bibb lettuce, spinach, collard greens, watercress), sprouts of broccoli, alfalfa or radishes, or sea vegetables like kelp. However, any fresh vegetable, of any color will help you perform better. Peppers, green beans, peas, squash and zucchini all contain beneficial goodies!
Add them to your diet in easy ways. Add peppers, broccoli or spinach to omelettes or egg whites, or even in soups. Include dark lettuce and/or watercress on every sandwich. Chop broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peppers and cabbage and mix together with low-fat mayo and some parmesan cheese for a fresh take on slaw.
You can also add a good multivitamin/mineral supplement, like Prograde VGF 25+ or Melaleuca’s Vitality Supplements (contact me for more info) to your daily plan. These won’t replace your veggie intake, but will help fill the gap when you can’t get your fill of veggies! Be creative and consistent, and you’ll reap the benefits of green foods.
Bottom line: veggies help your athletic training and performance, so…don’t be a hater! Be an eater; of veggies and “green foods!”
Whole Foods Marshmallows
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