- It’s February already, how’s the exercise regime going?
- Training for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks course record with Kuta Outdoors????
OR…. are you injured already?
It’s the biggest fear of any fitness enthusiast, new or well seasoned; you’re well on your way to seeing an improvement, you step up the mileage/weights/intensity then BANG.. something ‘goes’ and you can’t do any more until it’s better. Infuriating!!
So.. What does this have to do with what you put in your mouth?
You’ve been doing all the right things haven’t you? Plenty of carbs for energy and protein for recovery..right?
Well yes, but have you been looking after your connective tissue? ….Sorry, my what?!
Connective tissue is the stuff that binds us all together, stops our delicate internal parts from collapsing into each other, keeps us upright and mobile, keeps the outside out, and the inside in, and transports nutrients, gases (eg. oxygen), hormones, wastes, anti-bodies and white blood cells around our bodies. Good examples are bone, cartilage, skin and blood.
OK….so how is this related to injury?
Well, the health of your connective tissue dictates how vulnerable you are to injury and illness, and factors such as diet, stress, hormone imbalance and inflammation all affect the connective tissue environment. If your CT is weak due to poor diet or high levels of stress (which affects your digestion and nutrient absorption), then you are far more likely to become ill or injured than someone with healthy CT.
So, what can I do to make sure my connective tissue is healthy?
Protein is important ofcourse, so if you’re taking on board either a shake or snack containing protein immediately after training, then you’re definitely on the right track. Protein from animal cartilage is especially beneficial. Think of the tough inedible parts of a chicken leg for example, stewed with vegetables, strained and made into a broth, this is ideal fodder for your CT, especially if you are injured. In fact, boil any animal bones with some onions, celery, carrot along with some herbs such as rosemary and bay, and drink the broth daily to speed recovery from injury or illness. It’s also very good for helping gut problems such as IBS.
Don’t neglect the micronutrients though:
Vitamin C is an important one, it helps to increase collagen synthesis, that’s one of the main components of our connective tissues. So increase your intake of kiwi, oranges, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, berries and green leafy vegetables. Steam your veg and save the water for making stock for soups and broths as some vitamin C will be lost in the cooking process.
Phytonutrients… these are special micronutrients which also play an important role in CT health.
Catechins found in green tea, dark chocolate, cranberries, dark coloured berries, apples and red wine are known to help prevent the breakdown of collagen. Dark coloured berries also contain
Anthocyanins that have been shown to help collagen fibres to stick together which may well assist in the strength and recovery of connective tissue.
So, berries really are the way forward. So they’re not in season over here at the moment, use frozen berries, they’re just as good. Blitz in smoothies and recovery shakes, top your porridge with them, or enjoy with a dollop of natural yogurt and honey.
As you can see, it’s SO important to pay attention to your diet beyond protein and carbs for sport; your Granny was right, ‘Eat Your Greens’, and aim to consume at least 7 good portions of fruit and vegetables a day (5 isn’t enough if you’re very active). If you really are a salad dodger, (shame on you!) it is worth investing in a good multi-vitamin and mineral to ensure you are getting all the micronutrients you need to help keep injury and illness at bay. (Please mail me for advice, not all supplements are equal; you may as well pour some cheap ones straight down the loo!)
Next month I’ll be looking at inflammation, both acute and chronic, and how you can help your body to keep it under control.
In the mean time, good luck with the training, whether it’s for a spring marathon, endurance walk, biking sportive or just for fitness, and take care of your CT!
Special for February,…. Sport Nutrition Consultations.
Are you getting the best from your diet for performance and recovery?
Mind and Body Clinic provide awesome help and advice with all things diet related – for performance fuels, recovery foods or general diet advice do speak with Andrea, she has transformed how I think of food and it has already made a difference that has been noticed positively by others..bring on the season….!!