A Diet 4 Fitness
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health. A healthy diet should include a good variety of nutritious foods. These include a range of breads, pastas, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Eating breakfast is also an important part of a healthy diet. Keep fat and salt intake low. A good balance between exercise and food intake is important to maintain a healthy body weight.
The average adult human body comprises 50 - 65% water and it has been suggested by health professionals that we should drink between 1.5 - 2 litres (6-8 glasses) of water per day to maintain our general well being.
Why should we drink water?
- Increases energy and relieves fatigue - 90% of the brain is water and feeling thirsty is a sign of dehydration. Dehydration can make you feel tired. It can also lead to the onset of headaches. By drinking water this can increase your energy levels as well as improving your mood.
- Improves skin complexion - water helps to hydrate your skin reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It helps to improve blood flow and flush out impurities leaving the skin well moisturised and glowing.
- Helps digestion - by improving the flow of waste materials through the digestive tract and hence aiding bowel function and preventing constipation.
- Removes toxins - and so reduces the risk of kidney stones by diluting the salts and minerals in urine. Drinking water first thing in the morning helps to remove toxins from our body and starts to re-awaken out body's organs.
- Prevents sprains and strains - drinking water helps to lubricate the joints and helps to prevent muscles from cramping. If you are well hydrated you can exercise longer and harder without the risk of injury. More water is needed with exercise and heat due to higher water loss through sweat.
The benefits of Beetroot on general health
Beetroot is low in fat, it is packed full of vitamins and minerals (potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid,) as well as containing carbohydrates, protein and soluble fibre. Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is also an antioxidant.
Lowers blood pressure
In 2010 UK researchers revealed that the nitrates contained in beetroot has been linked with lowering blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.
Increases blood flow
The study also suggested that drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia.
Exercise and athletic performance
Beetroot juice supplementation has been shown to improve muscle oxygenation during exercise. The benefit is thought to be related to the nitrates in beetroot. Studies have shown that those who drank beetroot juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16% longer. This suggests that increased dietary nitrate intake has the potential to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that lines the joints breaks down and the exposed bones rub together. This degenerative process causes excess friction in the joints, leading to joint stiffness and pain. Osteoarthritis is more common among middle-aged and older individuals. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe pain in the back, neck, hands, hips, knees, and/or feet.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are naturally found in connective tissues in the human body, however, as we age and our joints begin to degenerate the body cannot produce enough glucosamine and chondroitin to repair the degenerating cartilage. Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate and green lipped mussel are often taken to help slow or prevent the degeneration of joint cartilage and so help alleviate joint pain.
Glucosamine and green lipped mussel are extracted from shell fish, and chondroitin is found in shark cartilage. They are all commonly taken as dietary supplements (also known as nutritional supplements).
Glucosamine sulphate is thought to help with cartilage formation and repair.
Chondroitin sulphate is thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help to reduce the painful swelling in the joints that occurs when the exposed bones in the joint rub together. In addition, chondroitin sulphate may also help slow the breakdown of cartilage and help restore cartilage growth to better cushion the joints.
(Nutritional supplements do not offer the desired pain relief for all osteoarthritis patients and the benefits and risks have not yet been definitively proven).
Vitamin C effects on joint pain
Your body needs vitamin C for the production of collagen, which is a component of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and other types of connective tissue. Eating vitamin C each day allows your body to produce collagen to keep cartilage strong and getting enough vitamin C can help relieve or prevent pain in your joints. Additionally, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C help protect cartilage, limiting its destruction.
The health and strength of our bones rely on a balanced diet with particular emphasis on calcium and Vitamin D and magnesium.
Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It is also very important for other physical functions, such as muscle control and blood circulation. It is not made in the body so it must be absorbed from the foods we eat. To effectively absorb calcium from food, our bodies need Vitamin D. If we do not have enough calcium in our diets to keep our bodies functioning, calcium is removed from where it is stored in our bones. Over time, this causes our bones to grow weaker and may lead to osteoporosis — a disorder in which bones become very fragile and can lead to fracture. Both men and women are at risk.
We can get the recommended daily amount of calcium by eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of calcium-rich foods. Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are the biggest food sources of calcium. Other high-calcium foods include:-
- Kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage (bok choy) and other green leafy vegetables
- Sardines, salmon, and other soft-bone fish
- Breads, pastas and grains
- Calcium-fortified cereals
- Juices, and other beverages
You need vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium. The best source is sunlight, which your body uses during the summer months to manufacture the vital vitamin in your skin. You should try to get ten minutes of sun exposure to your bare skin, once or twice a day, without sunscreen (taking care not to burn). Get outside between May and September so that your body can produce enough Vitamin D to help see you through the winter months. You can also find vitamin D in
margarine, egg yolks, cod liver oil and oily fish such as herrings and sardines. Magnesium
Magnesium is responsible for the strength and firmness of bones and makes teeth harder. Most notably, adequate magnesium is essential for absorption and metabolism of calcium. As with calcium, the majority of the body's reserves of magnesium are held in the bone (60%), and the bones act as a storage reservoir, transferring magnesium into the blood stream when needed. Adequate daily intake of magnesium is important throughout life to keep the magnesium that is stored in the bones from being lost. Low magnesium intake, as well as low blood and bone magnesium levels, has been widely associated with osteoporosis in women.
Most dietary magnesium comes from vegetables, such as dark green, leafy vegetables. Other foods that are good sources of magnesium:
- Fruits or vegetables (such as bananas, dried apricots, and avocados)
- Nuts (such as almonds and cashews)
- Peas and beans (legumes), seeds
- Soy products (such as soy flour and tofu)
- Whole grains (such as brown rice and millet)
Inflammation is part of the body's immune response and plays a major role in the healing process. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can enhance inflammation causing overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, and nuts especially walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation. To get the benefits, however, you need to eat fish several times a week, and it should be cooked in healthy ways e.g baked or boiled (not fried, dried or salted).
Eating whole grains, as opposed to refined, (white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) can help reduce inflammation because of their high fibre content and they usually have less added sugar.
Dark green vegetables
Studies have suggested that vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines—and one of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens.
Nuts, particularly almonds, are rich in fibre, calcium, and vitamin E, and all nuts are rich in antioxidants, which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation. Nuts (along with fish, leafy greens, and whole grains) are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in as little as six weeks.
Juicy red tomatoes, specifically, are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout the body. Cooked tomatoes e.g. tomato sauce contain even more lycopene than raw ones.
Beetroot (and beetroot juice) has been shown to reduce inflammation, because of its deep red colour giving it antioxidant properties.
The compound oleocanthal, which gives olive oil its taste, has been shown to have a similar effect as anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAID) in the body.
Berries and fruits
All fruits can help fight inflammation, because they're low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. Berries, in particular, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—possibly because of anthocyanins, the powerful chemicals that gives them their rich colour. Tart cherries have been shown to have significant pain-reduction, recovery-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects. Papaya contains a pain-reducing ingredient called papain. Research has shown that proteolytic enzymes like papain can be just as effective as many common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, an anti-inflammatory which achieves similar results to anti-inflammatory drugs, but without side effects. Bromelain helps reduce swelling and inflammation in the body, making it beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as arthritis, bursitis tendonitis, inflammatory bowel conditions and general sprains and strains. Bromelain can also help break down fibrin, a protein that can cause blood clotting and so helps reduce bruising. Studies have shown that bromelain can reduce mild knee pain.
Ginger has been shown to be beneficial in regards to reducing inflammation and expediting muscle recovery. Due to these strong anti-inflammatory effects, ginger has been clinically shown to reduce knee pain in osteoarthritic patients.
Turmeric can be found in curry powder and it is what gives curry powder its major yellow colouring. However, it is curcumin, the principal active ingredient in tumeric that gives tumeric its anti-inflammatory benefits. Research has even specifically shown curcumin to enhance recovery through reducing inflammation and assisting in recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.