Welcome to the Fuel for Fall Performance Nutrition Challenge Blog. This week will be all about micro-nutrients and super-foods. Wikipedia defines macronutrients as nutrients required by humans and other organisms throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a range of physiological functions. We’ll be talking about how to ensure you get your micronutrients and how you can use superfoods to help get your intake up to spec. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the term superfood, as it implies that a single food is good for all people all the time. As with any other food, superfoods are all relative to the specific situation and should be moderated and rotated so that you get a lot of variety. However, we will be talking about foods that we’ve seen to have healing qualities or that simply make our members feel better.
We’ll be looking at 3 different categories of superfoods this week.
- Gut healing foods : This will include homemade broths such as fish, chicken and beef stock, as well as fermented foods such as saukraut, kimchi, kombucha. You can read about the benefits of broth or stock and how to make it here and here. Read about fermented foods here.
- Immunity and anti-inflamatory foods : This includes foods such as shellfish and wild oily fish, as well as shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms, along with delicious flavourful herbs and foods such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Read about the anti inflammatory effect of turmeric here along with some other favourite anti inflammatory foods here. The rest is very easy to include in your meals. Who doesn’t like garlic, mushrooms and ginger along with some meat and veggies?
- Anti-oxidant, mineral rich foods & detoxifying super foods: this will include foods as well as seeds and powdered super foods such as green tea, raw cacao powder and cacao nibs, maca powder, chlorella & spirulina and other seaweed and sea vegetables, flax and chia seeds, as well as richly coloured leafy greens & tubers such as beets, kale, spinach, collards and chard, as well as cruciferous cabbage and broccoli, along with alkalizing citrus fruit lemon & lime and other anti-oxidant rich berries such as acai and gogi. A great way to increase your intake of these nutrient rich foods is to make a green smoothie. You can read about green smoothies here and find tons of recipes online, just google green smoothie recipe.
Your daily bonus challenge for Sunday, November 30th is to read the links above about how to make broth and green smoothies. To get your bonus point for Sunday, you will also need to determine and write down what you feel your priorities lie with regard to super foods and start making plans to shop for and prepare the foods listed above. I’ve given some guidelines below. Many of the super foods can be found in a regular grocery store or in a health food store. Homemade broth should be made with grass fed or pasture meats or wild fish rather than conventional meats and seafood. You can actually buy bags of bones from the butcher for a very affordable price. Add some of these to this week’s shopping list, as you’ll be expected to get going on Monday.
- If you have any type of digestive issue, or if you have food allergies, or if you have any auto-immune condition such as IBS, Chrones, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or asthma, choose mostly gut healing foods. Gut issues are often a trigger for mood problems such as depression and anxiety and can prevent you from losing fat so that can be a consideration here.
- If you tend to have a lot of joint pain, if you get sick a lot with colds and flus, or if you have a nagging injury that just won’t seem to heal, focus on immune system boosting and anti-inflammatory foods. This category can work well for athletes who do a lot of endurance training or who train frequently at a high intensity.
- If you are healthy but wish to feel better and ward of diseases such as cancer, or if you want to have more energy and perform better in the gym, choose anti-oxidant, mineral rich, detoxifying foods.
- If your main goal is to lean out or to gain weight, you will need to work on all three categories, but you will need to choose and time your foods based on last week’s macronutrient recommendations. For example, if you want to lean out, green smoothies are fantastic, but if you put too much sweet fruit in them, you will likely miss the mark on your carbohydrate intake.