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Damian Stoy is the founder of Wholistic Running, elite ultra marathon runner and coach
I am often asked what are the best foods to eat for health, increased energy, recovery, healing injuries and performance. I believe certain foods are beneficial for everyone and I will share my thoughts including what has worked for me.
Eating for Overall Heath and Well Being
I suggest eating a variety of food that is whole, unrefined, local, and organic. Eat real food! Keep it creative and fun and try not to be too restrictive. Include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and nuts. What you eat everyday is the foundation of health. Do not rely on supplements, pills and miracle foods for health.
I highly suggest getting rid of dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt) as well as other highly inflammatory and mucus forming foods such as refined flours, sugar, wheat, eggs, alcohol and fried foods. Excessive mucus lines the GI tract and severely hampers your body’s ability to assimilate nutrients and digest food. Also, these foods are common allergens and produce symptoms such as runny noses and phlegm in the throat or lungs. This is not normal! If you have these symptoms, play around with eliminating certain foods for a week or two and see if you notice any improvements. Foods that help rid the body of excess mucus includes lemons, apple cider vinegar, ginger and cayenne.
For runners specifically, I suggest nutrient dense foods such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and brown rice. Try to limit pasta, non-whole grain and wheat products. Enzyme rich foods provide energy and include sprouts, raw foods, fresh juices, miso and wheatgrass. Include foods rich in healthy fats including flax seeds, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil.
Foods for Performance
Incorporating specific performance enhancing foods is something you may want to try. Foods known as adaptogens are beneficial for many reasons including increased endurance, stamina, energy and a healthy immune system. Adaptogens include ginseng, maca, astragalus, chia seeds and goji berries. I also recommend flax oil, turmeric, ginger and wheatgrass for their anti-inflammatory properties and greatly reducing recovery time. For runners, I recommend foods high in iron and those which build the blood. Those include dark greens, spirulina, cherries, seaweeds, beets, parsley and molasses. Incorporating these foods will allow you to assimilate oxygen more efficiently and result in greater performance. Ample fresh herbs and spices are recommended for anti-oxidants and to benefit digestion. Examples include ginger, cayenne, garlic, cinnamon and oregano.
I don’t use supplements most of the year but during the race season I incorporate a few to recover faster and improve performance. I highly recommend Tissue Rejuvenator from Hammer Nutrition for healing, reducing inflammation and speeding up recovery. Zyflamend is another great product with similar benefits. Hammer Nutrition provides a variety of super high quality supplements that increase performance and overall health. Click on this to get 15% off your first order!
Choosing healthy substitutions can make an immense difference in overall health. Don’t just get rid of the bad, enjoy the good! Since we all have cravings, here are some recommendations for alternative foods that satisfy and actually provide healthful benefits instead of dis-ease.
- Replace ‘bad’ fats with coconut oil, olive oil, avocados and flax oil.
- Replace table salt with Celtic and Real Salt. Seaweeds, herbs and spices provide the real flavor and nutrients we crave.
- Replace white sugar with maple syrup, honey, molasses, dates and agave.
- Snacks: seaweed or kale chips (salty), apple with almond butter.
- Hydrate with herbal teas and fresh juices not soda or coffee.
To find out specifically which foods benefit you, I suggest listening to your body. Remember, eat real food and play with what works for you. You’ll have more energy, greater health and will be able to do more of what you love to do in life.