As an athlete, regardless of whether you are aware and affected by mental stress, you definitely have another type of stress—physical stress. The combined effects of hard practices, weight training, conditioning sessions, games/tournaments, travel, and irregular sleep schedules promote inflammation, muscle damage, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction.
Fortunately, the body has numerous built-in pathways to offset these effects and promote balance and recovery simply by making good food choices! Here’s one SportFuel® Pro-Tip to get you started: Eat the rainbow.
What we really mean is—eat polyphenols! Polyphenols (aka phytonutrients) are a type of antioxidant. Recent studies have demonstrated the profound effect consuming polyphenols has on reducing exercise-induced physiological stress. In other words, eating a variety of foods naturally rich in these colorful polyphenols has been shown to decrease the number of inflammatory markers seen in athletes post-exercise.
What foods contain a rainbow of polyphenols? To name a few…
- All types of berries (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry)
- Cherries and grapes
- Yellow and red onions, shallots
- Black and green teas and olives
- 80% or higher dark chocolate
- Fresh ginger
- Broccoli and broccoli sprouts
- Red cabbage and leafy greens
- Herbs and spices
Getting those powerful polyphenols every day can be as easy as adding mixed berries to your breakfast every morning, having an afternoon cup of tea, a mixed greens salad for lunch, and sautéing colorful veggies at dinner. How will you eat the rainbow?