We all know how crucial oxygen is to running. Without it there would be no energy released from our glucose and fat, and nothing would power muscle activity. It’s not just running but any activity that requires muscle use would be a task.
Which is why there’s so much emphasis on how to breathe, and breathing patterns when it comes to running and workouts. In short, the body requires tremendous amount of oxygen to perform your favourite physical activity, and the best way to oxygenate the cells is by belly-breathing, maximising intake of oxygen.
However, the downside of oxygen is oxidation or generation of free radicals, chemicals that can damage your body and system over time. They are linked to chronic diseases and accelerated aging. But thankfully we have something to battle their mischief, and those are antioxidants. Some free radicals can be eliminated through antioxidant intake. Our body produces its own antioxidants in the form of endogenous enzymes. The rest comes from exogenous antioxidants found in fruits, herbs and vegetables.
Antioxidant-rich diet has been proven to reduce oxidative effects and lowers risk of diseases and conditions linked to free radicals. Just one additional serving of fruit or vegetables in the diet can reduce chance of oxidative stress by 5 percent, according to a Harvard study.
Vegetables and fruits with bright colour skin/peel are a rich source of antioxidants. Cherries, for example, contain anthocyanins, a a natural anti-inflammatory in the body to battle infection and disease. Tart cherry juice provides a concentrated dose of anthocyanins, and are highly recommended between two runs.
Tomatoes are scientifically proven to have higher concentration of antioxidants – beta-carotene and lycopene – especially in the juice. Nuts, milk, and even salmon contain antioxidants as well, that help neutralise free radicals in your body, allowing you to make optimum use of the extra oxygen you are adding to your body by breathing well.
Other commonly used ingredients such as chili powder, mustard, basil, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves are rich in polyphenols That also includes paprika, garlic, coriander, onion and cardamom. So by simply using these spices along with antioxidant rich fruits or veggies will give your diet a great boost in terms of the balance.
On a run, many runners have been known to carry dried fruits in a waist pack. That’s because they are a great source of polyphenols as well. In fact the reduced water content makes dry fruits a much better source of antioxidants than ripe fruits. Raisins, figs and dates are some dry fruits that fall under this category.
And finally, there’s red wine. Again high in total polyphenol count, it also supplies antioxidants to the body, but they are lost in the digestion process.