By Jesse Rodriguez
An apple a day keeps the doctor away right? Not quite since dietary guidelines recommended us to consume ~3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Vegetables, specifically, are overlooked but they shouldn’t as they are superfoods. Mom was right when nagging us about eating our veggies at the dinner table.
Vitamins are our main focus here and how it can help performance. There are two types of vitamins:
- Water soluble – Vitamins B and C
- Fat soluble – Vitamin A, D, E, and K
*Vitamins A, C, and E have antioxidant effects
The difference between the two are the elements of metabolism. Some water-soluble vitamins require digestion while some don’t, however, they are all absorbed in the small intestine then transported through the blood to their target areas. Similarly, some fat-soluble vitamins require digestion while some don’t. In order to get absorbed, it must be incorporated into a micelle with the help of bile. The micelle then gets absorbed into the intestinal cells by passive diffusion in the small intestine. Those with diseases or complications may have trouble absorbing vitamins or producing the necessary enzymes for metabolism.
Vitamins help performance in many ways such as serving as antioxidants to reduce inflammation or working with minerals such as calcium to promote bone strength. Furthermore, some fruits can serve as a pre-workout packed with carbohydrates with a low glycemic index providing a steady dose of carbs throughout the workout. Additionally, fruits contain fructose, a simple sugar, that is digested quickly aiding in glycogen replenishment. Because vitamins have various benefits, I will cover only a handful of fruits and vegetables that can help your health and performance.
- Fish, Beef, Yogurt, Milk, Chicken – Vitamin B12
- Helps formation of red blood cells
- Maintain brain function
- Create and breakdown protein and fat
- Pears – Vitamins C, K, B3, B6, B9
- Increase energy levels
- Aids in digestion
- Decrease blood pressure
- Cucumbers – Vitamins C, K, B1, B7
- Aids in protection of brain
- Increase digestive health
- Decreases stress
- Freshens your breath!
- Milk, Eggs, – Vitamin D
- Increase bone strength
- May increase musculoskeletal health
- May improve muscle efficiency
- Oranges, Carrots, Milk – Vitamin A
- Aid in vision and cellular differentiation
- Promotes eye health
- Antioxidant effects helping in muscle recovery
To summarize, vitamins are imperative to our health and can aid in performance. Add a banana or apple to your mid-day snack. You can also try things like carrots with hummus, celery sticks with peanut butter or steamed broccoli with your dinner. Eating your servings of fruits and vegetables doesn’t have be boring so mix it in with your daily foods. Eating a balanced diet includes all food groups containing vitamins which are important for different functions in the body
Jesse Rodriguez is a nutritional science major with an emphasis in sports nutrition. Jesse swam for the El Salvador national team and competed at the international level. Jesse is currently working towards a CSCS and registered dietitian license. He currently works at UCLA as a sports nutrition intern assisting both dietitians with meal plans, body composition, and education materials. Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
By Jesse Rodriguez
Gut bacteria has been a trend lately, and there is a good reason why its talked about but what is gut bacteria? And why is it good?
Let’s talk about the bacteria in our gut. Our bodies contain about 100 trillion bacteria living in our gut, also known as Microbiome. Microbiome synthesize neurotransmitters that communicate to the brain impacting our immune system, brain, weight, and mood. It’s also important to know that one’s genetics, diet, and environment influence these microbes.
Many people have heard about prebiotic and probiotic but what are they? Both are found in supplements but there’s no need to cash in on these supplements when they’re readily available in our everyday foods.
- Prebiotic – “nondigestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, thus improving host health”
- Probiotic – “live microorganisms (i.e bifidobacteria and lactobacilli) intended to promote health benefits”
Simply put, prebiotics promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut while probiotics are the good bacteria that live in the gut; prebiotics are the food for probiotics. They work together to improve GI health, enhance calcium absorption, boost immunity, and overall health and wellbeing. As a result, they may positively impact your health which then affects performance ultimately affecting your goals. Because prebiotics are fiber, adequate intake has been shown to:
- Control appetite
- Control development of Type II diabetes
- Regulate body weight
- Alleviate inflammation, typically irritable bowel syndrome
Because these are found in many foods, here is a list of common foods containing prebiotics and probiotics or containing both, called synbiotics:
- Green Peas
- Kefir products
- Dark Chocolate
- Yogurt + Honey
- Yogurt + Banana
- Oats + Dark Chocolate
- Legumes + Pickles
- Miso Soup + Garlic
Incorporate these meals into your diet as a snack or dinner to increase your overall wellbeing.
(2016) Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitaminsand-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/prebiotics-and-probiotics-the-dynamic-duo
Ho, N., & Prasad, V. (2013). Probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics and naturally fermented foods: why more may be more. Annals of Gastroenterology : Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology, 26(3), 277–278.
Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417– 1435. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu5041417