It’s been a wild winter season here and, (if you’re living in it) like me, you are probably dealing with snow—and lots of it. If your body is not prepared to handle the stress of pushing, lifting and throwing all this snow, it can be very hard on your muscles and you will feel it the next day. To help you minimize injury and maximize recovery from the wear and tear, here are five types of foods to help you with body repair:
- Slow-digesting, fiber-rich carbohydrates – After strenuous activity like shoveling your sidewalk and driveway, your muscles are tired and the glycogen – the form of carbohydrate stored in the muscles – becomes depleted. Slow carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits and whole grains will best help your body recover when consumed within 30-45 min after activity. If you wait too long to refuel with these slow carbs, your body won’t recover as easily.
- Lean protein – Protein provides amino acids, the building blocks for muscle repair. After you have exerted your body, in addition to the slow carbohydrates also consume at least 10 grams of protein. This first 30-45 minutes is when your body is at its peak ability to convert the protein from food into new muscle tissue to start the healing process.
- Foods high in antioxidants – Strenuous activity can produce additional free radicals in the body, which can lead to premature aging and potential health issues. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, preventing them from doing damage. Vibrantly-colored fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants: fresh or frozen berries, dark green leafy vegetables and winter squashes are excellent sources.
- Foods with anti-inflammatory properties – Turmeric and ginger can relieve pain without the harmful side effects of over-the-counter or prescription painkillers. Curcumin is an active compound found in both turmeric and ginger that can suppress inflammation and help the body recover faster. Garlic, cinnamon, rosemary, basil and chili peppers are other herbs and spices with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Foods with electrolytes – Potassium, sodium and magnesium help with muscle repair and minimize the cramping that can occur when strenuous activity depletes these minerals. Beets, lentils, apricots, bananas and almonds are good food sources for these nutrients.
If you want your body to efficiently recover and rejuvenate itself, add these types of foods to your life. With these small baby steps you will love the way you feel!