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Inspired Living

Wellness Wednesday - Why Athletes Should Eat Raw Foods

MarikaTaylor

Despite being around for years, raw food diets are gaining more and more popularity. Many turn to a raw food diet to lose weight, mitigate the progression of/or eradicate disease, and/orto increase energy and overall feelings of wellness and vitality.

Many who ascribe to a raw food diet believe that the uncooked nutrients found in raw foods provide a better quality of nutrition to its recipient.  So what exactly is a raw food diet?  A raw food diet is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods as a large percentage. Although most food is eaten raw, heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature stays below 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

Consuming raw foods provides numerous benefits; such as better digestion, absorbption of  more nutrients, diminishes cooking time, prevents injury and increases performance by developing a strong foundational diet to build upon.  By eating foods in their natural state it preserves the nutritional value that can be diminished through cooking. As athletes, the main purpose for food is to absorb nutrients from food to be converted into energy and without the necessary enzymes that come from raw foods; the body has to produce them on its own. The more the body has to produce, the less energy it has for performance and maintaining overall health. Enzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest food and absorb nutrients and are responsible for facilitating as much as 5000 enzymes at any given time during cellular activity in the body.

There are three main types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, which assist in all bodily processes and maintenance of the immune system; digestive enzymes, which aim to break-down the partially digested food exiting the stomach; and food enzymes, which are found in majority of raw and fermented foods. Food Enzymes are especially important to athletes for three main reasons: proteases for digesting proteins; lipases for digesting fats; and amylases for digesting carbohydrates, the macronutrients that athletes need in their diet. For athletes, food enzymes are most important because these are the ones that, although the body can produce, need to be sourced from our diet in order to prevent the pancreas from having to deplete its cache of reserves. Ounce its cache reserves are depleted health, energy and lifespan can be reduced drastically.

Although there is no traditional culture that consumes solely raw foods is equally important to incorporate raw foods with balanced diets that include fruits, vegetables, proteins and complex carbs. This is a diet that the athlete and those living active lifestyles can really benefit.

Check out the list of common staples for Raw Food Diets:

Fruits

  • Banana
  • Blueberry
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Raisins
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Young coconut

Vegetables

  • Bell peppers: red, orange, yellow
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini

Nuts and Seeds

Dried, raw, and preferably organic.

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raw almond butter
  • Nut "nutter"
  • Nut "milks"
  • Seed crackers (e.g. chia, flax)

Grains

  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Cereal
  • Granola
  • Bread

Beansand Legumes

Dried, raw, and preferably organic.

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Adzuki beans
  • Mung beans