As we have seen, a vegetarian diet can be more than beneficial for runners, and with some careful planning it can make up for all the nutrient requirements of a regular runner. As with any fitness activity, it is important to keep your nutrition strategy evolving over time, to make up for the strain and challenges your body goes through. While energy supplements and add-ons are always an option, there’s also a far less intrusive and natural way to boost your nutrient intake. We’re talking of those innocuous greens from your backyard or local grocer that infuse your meals with flavors and also a whole lot of health benefits. Here are some herbs to add to your daily diet
Even in small doses, mint has a lot going for it. The herb comes packed with iron and manganese, both minerals that are crucial for muscle function and indispensable for runners. Mint also contains Vitamins A and C, as well and antioxidants that are known to ward off cancer and other age-related diseases. You can consume it fresh in salads, or try out a mint-based pesto for your meats and pastas.
A favorite in Southeast Asian foods as well as an Indian staple to build immunity, basil comes with rosmarinic acid, which is known to reduce inflammations that lead to heart disease. Besides, the herb has a very low calorie and cholesterol count which means that you can add it liberally to your everyday foods. Basil also comes with exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and zea-xanthin—all rich antioxidants that ease lifestyle, stress and age disorders. For a light post-run snack, try out this tomato basil soup.
Often used as topping and garnish, chives are packed with vitamin C and calcium, along with Vitamin K that contributes to long-term bone health. In addition, potassium, iron folate, niacin, and thiamin are abundantly present; these are full of anti-oxidants and fight carcinogenic elements in the blood and body. Use chives as a replacement for onions in seafood, omelettes and meat and potato dishes, or whip up a fresh salad with the herb and other seasonal greens.
Sometimes called Chinese parsley, cilantros are known to have several benefits: they provide digestive aid, relief from nausea, and even correct mood imbalances that result from hormonal changes or stress. It also has compounds that prevent damage to blood vessels and is a powerful and natural cleansing agent, known to ward off common bacterial infections. Cilantro juice contains nutrients in the most concentrated form, but if you’re averse to the taste, combine it with a blend of carrot, tomato or cucumber, and lime for a refreshing summer drink.
Essentially a root, Indian ginseng or ashwagandha eases fatigue and provides a shield against physical stress that comes from a demanding routine. It also helps increase energy levels and is often used in medicines that help your body adapt to and relax in challenging situations. In controlled doses, the root helps build muscle strength and co-ordination, eventually leading to better running form and speed in athletes. Brew it in tea with a cup of water, 1-2 tsps of the root or leaf and some honey for sweetness and flavor.