These nutrient-dense foods are the perfect supplements to not only boost recovery but improve overall well-being.
Physical training takes a toll on the mind, body, & emotions. We aim to push ourselves harder and harder every day... but, we often neglect the single most important aspect of our health. The very thing that HELPS us continue to push harder. Recovery.
It seems counterintuitive at first. If we want to continue progressing in our fitness endeavours, why should we rest? See, our bodies slowly adapt to the stress we put it under... a theory termed G.A.S (General Adaptation Syndrome) claims our bodies endure three phases during adaptation:
● Alarm: the stress (i.e. a single workout) is introduced and kicks our body into high gear. The natural "fight or flight" dilemma.
● Resistance: the stress continues (i.e. workouts back to back) and the body adjusts to living under this new state of stress.
● Exhaustion: the stress has prolonged either too long or at too high an intensity, leaving the body burnt out and unable to adapt and progress is hindered.
The entire idea of staying active and working out is to prolong our time in the resistance phase (and away from the exhaustion phase). And while there are many ways to accomplish this, recovery is ALWAYS a part of a well-rounded and thought out program.
Recovery is more than just taking a few days off of the gym. It requires fueling our bodies with everything it needs to repair and renew itself. We all know that recovery from physical activity requires protein, hydration, and electrolytes. Here's what people don't know: many SUPERFOODS carry exactly what we need to replenish and recover. Here are our Top 5 Superfoods to Supercharge Recovery:
Shilajit is a Sanskrit word meaning “Conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness.” How does that sound for boosting performance? Pretty good, huh? While this pale-brown to blackish-brown gummy exudate does not look extremely appetizing, it provides amazing recovery benefits from the Himalayas.
Shilajit takes part in the transportation of nutrients into deep tissues to overcome tiredness, lethargy, and chronic fatigue (key signs of the exhaustion phase). This is caused by the enhanced ATP production triggered within the tissues.
As well, Shilajit contains ample amounts of Fulvic Acid and other potent minerals. Fulvic Acid stimulates blood formation to increase energy production and prevent hypoxia. Studies have also shown Shilajit effectively reduces the recovery periods needed for injured muscles, bones, and nervous system.
This natural tonic also amplifies the benefits of other herbs by enhancing their bioavailability in the body. Bioavailability is a nutrient's ability to be absorbed properly and fully by the body. The recommended dose of Shilajit for maintenance of optimal health is 300-500 mg/day.
Eucommia Bark Extract
This plant is widely cultivated in China on a large scale because of its medicinal importance. Eucommia Bark Extract contains various health compounds such as lignans, iridoids, phenolics, steroids, flavonoids, and more. Eucommia works as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antimicrobial, antiaging, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective agent.
As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, Eucommia reduces the effects of free radicals caused by oxidative stress. Our bodies break down the food we eat, the air we breathe, and more. But in doing so, tiny molecules break free and wreak havoc on different body parts. We call these molecules Free Radicals. They can wreak havoc on our organs and other tissues, causing excess inflammation or worse. However, the phenolics and flavonoids in Eucommia safely react with these free radicals. By donating a hydrogen atom or electron, these compounds terminate the reactions of free radicals before damage can be done.
As a cardioprotective and anti-aging component, Eucommia has been found to reduce blood pressure and act as a vasorelaxant. Vasorelaxation is the reduction in tension of the blood vessel walls. Eucommia bark extract is an active component used for antihypertensive formulations. Supplementation of 500 and 1000 mg for 8 weeks and thrice daily for 2 weeks showed a minimal reduction in blood pressure... and a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, helping study participants feel younger and healthier.
And while all these components aid in physical recovery from exercise and more, Eucommia has one very unique property that few think about in terms of recovery. The neuroprotective effects of Eucommia have been determined in several studies. These properties are most commonly found in the stem bark of Eucommia (as opposed to the leaves). Eucommia Bark Extract showed higher protection activity against memory dysfunctions. The nervous system is delicately connected to everything our bodies do, so it's important to maintain peak health in these functions.
Tongkat Ali is a medicinal plant commonly called Indonesian ginseng. Tongkat Ali contains flavonoids, alkaloids, and other compounds that act as antioxidants. But, most importantly, Tongkat Ali may lower stress hormones in the body to decrease anxiety, and improve mood.
One study found that supplementing with 200 mg of Tongkat Ali extract a day, helped to reduce levels of cortisol compared to a placebo. Another study found that daily supplementation with 200mg of Tongkat Ali root extract improves stress hormone profile and certain mood state parameters like lower tension, anger, and confusion.
These studies suggest Tongkat Ali may be an effective approach to shielding the body from the detrimental effects of chronic stress. This may include general day-to-day stress, as well as the stress of dieting, sleep deprivation, and exercise training.
Tongkat Ali is often claimed to boost athletic performance and increase muscle mass. By containing compounds such as eurycomaoside, eurycolactone, and eurycomanone, Tongkat Ali demonstrated the ability to improve testosterone levels, increase muscle size and strength, and use energy more efficiently. Therefore, reducing fatigue, improving endurance, and extending our time in the resistance phase.
Studies conducted with young men undergoing weight-training and supplementation found improvement in lean body mass, 1-RM strength, and arm circumference. Additional studies in dieters and athletes demonstrated Tongkat Ali extract helps to restore normal testosterone levels.
The studies that have been done have typically used 200 mg per day for up to nine months. Noted side effects include restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia.
The male fertilizing component of a variety of trees, flowering plants, and grasses, Pine Pollen is typically thought of as an allergen. However, when ingested, Pine Pollen is believed to alleviate fatigue, boost testosterone, and have anti-aging properties.
Most cells, with the exception of cancer cells, can't divide indefinitely. There is a set number before they complete apoptosis, or cell death. This set number is termed replicative senescence. Yet, researchers have found that Pine Pollen helps to delay replicative senescence.
A 2013 study found that a carbohydrate derived from pine pollen could stop the cells during their division cycle in cultured liver cancer cells. This helps to hit pause on the aging process of not only cells, but on a larger scale, our bodies.
Pine Pollen may also be used to stimulate the immune system, boost brain health, support detox, promote weight loss, and alleviate pain. Researchers found that treatment with Pine Pollen extracts daily for 49 days lowered arthritis symptoms in the mice.
Pine Pollen can be used over a course of time without it having toxic effects on your body -- what is termed a tonic medicine. As well, the adaptogenic nature of Pine Pollen allows it to cater to exactly what is needed for each unique body.
Part of the reason Pine Pollen is believed to be such a potent superfood is due to the wide range of vitamins and minerals it contains. For example Vitamins A, B-Carotene, B1, B2, B3, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. Its host of minerals include Calcium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium, Silicon, Sodium, and Zinc.
Super Medicinal Mushrooms
All types of edible mushrooms act as adaptogens to help bring the body back into balance. By containing varying degrees of protein, fibre, and antioxidant compounds, mushrooms provide beneficial effects to the nervous system, immune system, G.I. tract, cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
By protecting our cells against DNA damage, mushrooms provide potent antioxidant benefits that may also help in the management of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. However, when it comes to recovery, we want to focus on the vitamins and minerals mushrooms contain that may contribute to overall health.
While the B vitamins help to provide the body with energy and form red blood cells, the Choline in mushrooms helps with muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline, often grouped with the B vitamin family, assists in the maintenance of cell structure and nerve impulses. As well, mushrooms are also the ONLY vegan, nonfortified dietary source of vitamin D.
Minerals help the body to grow, develop, and stay healthy. Our bodies use minerals to perform many different functions from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat. However, there are several minerals that can be difficult to obtain in some diets. Minerals such as selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus are found in mushrooms.
This 6 Mushroom Elixir from Superfoods Australia contains six super shrooms to aid in recovery, including:
● Lion's Mane
The two most notable of these 6 are Chaga and Lion's Mane.
Chaga mushrooms contain many antioxidants. Research suggests that oxidative stress is a contributing factor for high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more prone to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular health issues. The antioxidants found in Chaga may reduce the free radicals in the body.
Chaga mushrooms are rich in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including:
● B-complex Vitamins
● Vitamin D & Potassium
● Rubidium & Cesium
● Amino Acids & Fiber
● Copper, Selenium, & Zinc
● Iron & Manganese
● Magnesium & Calcium
Chaga Mushrooms also contain Glyconutrients. These plant saccharides are necessary for the body to create the structures on cell surfaces that can be used to "talk" to other cells -- glycoforms. Glyconutrients play a key role in supporting the immune system and promoting effective cell-to-cell communication.
Lion's Mane may help speed recovery from these types of injuries by stimulating the growth and repair of nerve cells. Studies have found that Lion’s Mane contains two special compounds that can stimulate the growth of brain cells:
These compounds help regenerate brain cells and improve the functioning of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the region of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses.
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and other nerves that travel throughout the body. These components work together to send and transmit signals that control almost every bodily function. By increasing the function of the nervous system, Lion's Mane (as well as other superfoods listed above) not only aid in recovery but boost the body's overall performance.
While many of the foods listed aren’t what we typically think of when we hear “superfoods,” each one contains potent and powerful properties seen in both medical and anecdotal research. They are all great additions to include in our recovery regimens. However, always check with your doctor before supplementing anything to ensure no adverse reactions will occur with current medication or other treatments plans.