Nutrition and Optimum Performance in Sport
My experience and research over the past 30 years or so have led me to the conclusion that optimum sports performance is hugely influenced by nutrition. Unfortunately, most people who are engaged in sporting activities, including advanced level athletes, are either oblivious to the importance of good nutrition or possess an incomplete understanding of the basic laws of nature, and how these laws influence performance.
The Highest Quality Food
Being on the cutting edge of nutrition and performance requires athletes to eat the highest quality food, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Animal products such as meats, eggs and fish should be kept to a minimum. Dairy foods, with the exception of a little raw goat’s milk or goat’s milk yoghurt, should be excluded.
Acid and Alkaline- Getting the Balance Right
In health, the blood is slightly alkaline with a pH of around 7.4. The majority of alkaline-forming foods are fruits and vegetables, while most grains, fish, meats and dairy products are acid-forming. The ideal ratio should be 80 per cent alkaline to 20 per cent acid. I refer to this as the 80-20 rule.
Too much acid may lead to the following adverse effects:
- Infections due to immune deficiency
- Inflammation, vulnerability to injuries and slow recovery rate
- Risk of osteoporosis
- Joint pain and lactic acid build-up
- Low energy and excessive fatigue
- Premature ageing
- Yeast overgrowth
- Hormonal imbalance
- Impaired digestion
- Bladder and kidney infections
- Poor absorption of vitamins and minerals from food
However, get the balance right and the following benefits can be enjoyed:
- Faster recovery from injuries
- Increased resistance to inflammation and injury
- Increased resistance to infections and chronic disease
- Boosted energy and endurance levels
- Strengthened musculo-skeletal system
- Increased efficiency of the cardiovascular system
Protein – Pitfalls and Myths
There is a common perception among athletes and the public that we must consume lots of protein. It does appear true that animal-derived proteins such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs help to increase size but there is a price to pay – namely an increase in heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. Plant-deprived proteins do not have the same detrimental effects.
Today we are exposed to toxins on a daily basis and the liver, the body’s main organ responsible for detoxifying potentially harmful substances, often cannot deal with them. Principle sources of these toxins arise from eating too many so-called junk foods, agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, fluoride, chlorine, air pollution from exhaust fumes, radioactivity from x-rays, mercury from dental amalgam, vaccinations and food sources such as tuna.
In terms of lowering the body’s toxic load, it is clear a plant-based diet has a double benefit: it reduces the intake of toxins and it aids the body in its attempts to detoxify itself because of the cleansing nature of fruits and vegetables.
Benefits of Raw and Living Foods
This programme is based on a diet that comprises an abundance of raw vegetables with the addition of so-called living foods. Living foods are chlorophyll and enzyme rich, raw plant foods such as sprouted seeds (e.g. alfalfa), fruit, vegetables, salad leaves and herbs. I would also include freshly-made juices.
Something to Try
An example of a good, green juice would be the following: Two sticks celery, a third of a cucumber, two handfuls of spinach and a small piece of ginger. Blend and drink!
Advice for Non-Vegetarians
Try and limit animal products, limiting red meats such as beef, processed meats, bacon, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, pork, smoked fish, battery eggs. Instead opt for white meats such as chicken and turkey, lamb and venison, meats free from additives and those that are un-smoked. Choose fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel and pilchard (all of which are high in healthy fats) and free-range, organic eggs.
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