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The Young Athlete's Guide to Maximizing Athletic Performance Through Proper Nutrition and Exercise
/Win the Fight for Faster Recovery with Antioxidants
Win the Fight for Faster Recovery with Antioxidants
Imagine that you are a mosquito. You're looking for a human to satisfy your need for blood. You find one, bite him, suck his blood, and dodge the hand trying to squish you. Now the human is infected with a disease which every other mosquito biting him will get and pass along to more humans. And it's still alive. This relationship is exactly like the one between free-radicals and antioxidants.
So What's a Free-Radical Anyways?
Free-radicals are like mosquitoes because they are damaged cells that try to steal from healthy cells what they need to be complete. When free-radicals attack healthy cells they damage them, creating a whole chain reaction in your body. This chain reaction will destroy and damage other cells, which will increase the time it takes to recover after exercise, and reduce the gains that you would receive.
Environmental factors such as pollution, stress, radiation, cigarette smoke, and herbicides can also create free radicals. Free-radicals are also created as a result of exercise. When our body's activity level rises. We use extra oxygen. This causes cellular oxidation, which creates free-radicals. Cellular oxidation is when your muscles get oxygen and burn sugars to create energy. But, what happens is the muscle's lower levels of oxygen makes the muscle breakdown. Now all of these broken down cells are free-radicals.
Antioxidants to the Rescue
How are we going to fight free-radicals? The solution is antioxidants. Antioxidants in foods help to rid the body of free radicals by escorting them out of the body.
We get antioxidants from compounds found in fruits and vegetables. Some of these compounds are vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. Most fruits and vegetables have a lot of antioxidants, so by eating fruits and vegetables you recover faster, and come back stronger. Who can say no to that?
How do you measure the antioxidant power of a particular food?
Antioxidant levels in a food are measured by its ORAC score. This is just how much antioxidants are in the food. Let's take a peek at the ORAC score of some well-known super foods.
Goji berries - 25,300Acai berries- 24,000Black raspberries, 7,700Prunes - 5,770Blueberries - 2,400Spinach - 1,770Broccoli - 880
Most fruits will be at a range of 6,000- 7,000, and most vegetables will be at 500- 2,000. What's even better is that they taste absolutely great. Nothing tastes better after a workout than some acai berry juice.
The best part is that these foods are so good and they are incredibly easy to include in your diet. For example, raisins are powerful antioxidants and they can be included in oatmeal for breakfast. Garlic is another great antioxidant, adding some garlic to a salad or sandwich will give you a ton of antioxidants and you can hardly taste it.
Imagine that mosquito again. That is what's happening in a body lacking antioxidants. The free-radicals are killing your cells and not letting your muscles recover. Smush those mosquitoes before they even have a chance to get at you. With antioxidants it's possible.
Brazier, Brendan. Thrive Fitness: Physical and Mental Strength for Life. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Penguin Group, 2009. Print.
Roberts, Lynette. What's All the Fuss about Antioxidants. Squidoo, 24 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 June 2010. http://www.squidoo.com/what-are-antioxidants.