Antioxidants are plant food nutrients known as phytochemicals/phytonutrients Antioxidants are mostly found in deeply-colored fresh fruits and vegetables and other plants and foods.
These powerful nutrients possess the uncanny ability to convert destructive free radicals to harmless waste products prior to causing molecular damage to your cells. Antioxidants behave like scavengers to keep intact your cells and tissue in the spirit of overall health.
Free radicals are villains to your cellular health. A free radical is a highly unstable molecule thanks to a missing electron. Free radicals work harmoniously to rob electrons from stable molecules and wreak cellular havoc within your body.
Respiration is important to snowshoers and trail runners and it is one process where the formation of free radicals occurs and oxidative stress begins its cellular mayhem.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds responsible for protecting and maintaining cellular health and regeneration by protecting cell structure and DNA.
Snowshoeing and trail running require increased oxygen which causes cellular oxidation. Oxidation decreases cellular longevity and function through premature degeneration.
Participation in our complementary sports creates an abundance of free radicals. A diet rich in antioxidants will significantly reduce nutritional stress and combat oxidation.
Vitamin C, E, selenium and phytonutrient-rich food sources will negate the oxidative side effects generated from our beloved sports. Some benefits of consuming antioxidant-rich foods include cellular health protection, reduced risk of disease, enhanced recovery, and improved skin elasticity.
Antioxidants thwart the oxidation process. Primary source foods offer an abundance of antioxidants. Regular ingestion of the following foods will combat potential free radical damage to which your body is susceptible after exertion.
These include carotenoids – potent precursors to vitamins A, C, E, and selenium.
Carotenoids represent a family of hundreds of phytonutrients convertible to vitamin A found in an array of vibrant colors and foods such as watermelon, peppers, pumpkin, papaya, tomatoes, carrots, apricots, kale, spinach, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, parsley, and broccoli to list a few.
Vitamin C is water-soluble and requires frequent replenishment. Daily consumption of citrus and most other fruits and vegetables will easily boost your vitamin C levels.
Sources include guava, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin E has an antioxidant family of eight with alpha-tocopherol [especially in foods] the most influential on your cellular health.
Find this antioxidant in pumpkin, flax, and hemp seeds, avocados, leafy green vegetables, ancient and whole grains.
Selenium is a trace element that plays a significant role fighting oxidation. It works in concert with vitamin E as a cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase.
Selenium preserves muscle tissue elasticity and improves immune function. Excellent sources of this versatile trace element include Brazil nuts, walnuts, nutritional yeast, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, legumes, ancient and whole grains.
Phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi to boost your immunity.
Phytochemicals affect cardiovascular health by mitigating blood vessel wall damage, increasing blood flow, blood clot formation reduction, reduced platelet aggregation, lowering cholesterol levels, and more.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are the phytonutrient champions.
Dark, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables [broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts…], blue/purple fruits [blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, plums…], tomatoes, onions, garlic, flaxseeds, soybeans, citrus fruits, and more complete known phytochemical primary source foods.
Spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, cloves, cilantro, oregano, coriander, and curry are excellent plant-based antioxidant sources.
Dark chocolate is also an antioxidant source. The lesson is that we ought to derive the bulk of our antioxidants from unrefined, whole, unprocessed food sources.
Endurance athletes require precision nutrition. Regular inclusion of some of the listed primary source foods in your diet will support your cellular health while silently taking your endurance performances to new levels.