Plants and Antioxidant Rich Diets
The sight, smell, sound and texture of food is the result of the interplay between the library of compounds contained in food and the membrane receptors of the eyes, nose and mouth.
These interactions between phytonutrients and receptors make eating a joy. The interaction of other phytochemicals are responsible for the other benefits provided by plants, improved health.
The Athlete’s Solution is based on the theory that plants contain active antioxidants that serve a dual role of suppressing inflammation and quenching free radicals.
Fragrant herbs for example, not only lend flavor to food, but also possess strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. These foods therefore can improve exercise by minimizing the inflammation and swelling that follows it. This promotes faster recoveries and an overall improvement in health.
The meals in this program are filled with colorful, complex, carbohydrates and healthy fats. They provide enough calories to fuel exercise, enough antioxidants to quench the free radicals produced as a result of exercise, and enough fiber to safely eliminate harmful metabolites from the colon.
In addition, an assortment of supplements including vitamins, minerals, the ultra-important omega-3 fatty acids, and a library of colorful pigments supplied by the plant world, are recommended.
Plants compounds are thus essential to sustaining and prolonging human life based on the arsenal of antioxidants they contain. Antioxidants are needed in much higher amounts in order to neutralize the huge number and variety of free radicals produced as a consequence of exercise.
Antioxidants are needed by sedentary people as well, but their inactivity causes less demand for them.
The colorful ingredients of plants are its pigment molecules, which are necessary for both the plant’s and our’s survival. These phytocompounds are synthesized by the plant because the plant needs protection from its harsh environment. These same compounds protect human cells in their harsh environments.
Cell health is dependent on the consumption of plants containing their library of unique antioxidants. Without their phytochemical factories, the plants would perish. The pigments they synthesize are used to ward off the plant’s constant exposure to the sun. Solar radiation produces unstable free radicals in plant cells. These altered compounds are as dangerous to plants as they are to humans.
Free radicals are dangerous molecules that are harmful to cells. They initiate cell damage and target the structures of blood vessels, joints, nerves, membrane receptors, the macula of the eye and skin.
These molecular injuries initiate the chronic diseases of arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, dementia, macula degeneration, and premature wrinkling.
Therefore, the key to long-term health is preventing the creation of harmful compounds or at least in neutralizing them once they are formed. That is the role that plant antioxidants play. The need for diversity and a library of antioxidants can not be overstated. High doses of a few agents is useless for the following reason.
Free radicals that target the inflammatory sites of joints require one set of specific antioxidant, while those that attack the liver and other organs require another. Some are specific to prevent the oxidation of genetic material (DNA). DNA activity is very high following exercise and is thus very prone to oxidative attack. DNA activity is high because protein building is needed to help the athlete recover from exercise.
Antioxidants and Recovery
The Athlete’s Solution is a return to the original, Greek meaning of the word ‘Diet’ or way of living. Its first premise is that activity or exercise is a main component of life. It then follows that since nutritional needs increase as a consequence of activity, the body requires better foods and meals to meet those needs. First, to fuel the activity and secondly, to support the body’s recovery from it.
Athletes therefore need more complex carbohydrates, more water, more vitamins and minerals, and more antioxidants in their diet.
Exercise stimulates the formation of catabolic enzymes, which are used to breakdown glucose, amino acids and fatty acids and converting their stored energy into the biologically useful form of energy known as ATP.
During this process there are many free radicals produced. Even more are formed after exercise when the body repays its oxygen debt as it perfuses its muscles with blood and oxygen.
Moreover, since exercise required the body to release its store of macronutrients (glycogen, protein and fat) to fuel muscle movement, these also need to be replenished following exercise. Exercise also stimulates an inflammatory response and growth to repair and build new muscle.
An athlete’s recovery therefore depends on the repair of damaged ligaments, joints and muscle fibers and repressing the inflammation that accompanies the damage. These harmful effects must be reversed by the body’s healing systems. Plant antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents aid this process.
Perfomance by athletes is often based on their ability to repress inflammation and restore lost fluids and electrolytes depleted in the previous session.
Recovery is essential to performance and long-term health.
The chronic disease of arthritis is escalated by oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The original injury produces damaged components in a joint, which are immediately attacked by free radicals. As more damage occurs and damaged components accumulate, this molecular debris becomes the foci of inflammation and further free radical attack. The initial damage progresses to full blown disease when the inflammatory response destroys function.
Should antioxidants fail to prevent the initial attack, its progression can still be stopped by repressing the body’s inflammatory response to it. Fortunately for athletes, the same antioxidants that neutralize sunlight in plants, can mitigate the damaging effects of exercise and its progression to arthritis.
The diseases implicated in having an origin in oxidative damage includes: arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cataracts, hypertension, nutritional diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Antioxidants help athletes maintain health by protecting the integrity of their cell’s membranes and the DNA blueprints contained in their cell’s nucleus. Antioxidants also prevent attack on the different types of lipoproteins (HDL, LDL and VLDL) in their blood.
Oxidized lipoproteins are more dangerous to health than the unoxidized lipoproteins.
Antioxidants are needed in higher amounts due to exercise. High antioxidant diets reduce the risk of developing the aforementioned chronic diseases.