Nutrition is an integral part of any gym goers training regime, as a diet catered towards the training needs of an individual can enhance performance, improve body composition and release positive ‘feel-good’ endorphins (namely
serotonin and dopamine).
Antioxidant supplementation can play a pivotal role in aiding recovery from strenuous physical activity (Bailey et al., 2011; McGinley et al., 2009; Powers & Jackson, 2008) possibly as a result of reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation (Bell et al., 2013; Urso & Clarkson, 2013).
What is Reactive Oxygen Species (the sciencey bit!)
Free radicals are unstable compounds and cause damage to lipids, proteins, DNA and
other biological complexes essential for bodily functions.
Radicals derived from oxygen represent the most important class of radical species and occur during oxidative metabolism. Free radicals and non-radical derivatives of oxygen are collectively termed reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS have long been thought of as detrimental to health, resulting in the degradation of cellular material and leading to cell death.
Exercise induced Oxidative
Strenuous and unaccustomed exercise can induce acute muscle damage
These symptoms are known as delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) and can last 24-72 hours following exercise. It is thought that DOMS occurs after intense eccentric (muscle lengthening under tension) and non-accustomed exercise as a result mechanical strain tearing the microstructure of the muscle.
In response to this damage the body begins a pro-inflammatory response. This accumulation of pro-inflammatory cell populations in the damaged muscles is likely to increase the inflammatory trauma to the muscles by releasing ROS in
the tissue (Close et al., 2005; Howatson & Van Someren, 2008; Powers & Jackson, 2008). ROS can:
As a result of ROS buildup and reduction in muscular strength and performance, there has been considerable interest in antioxidant supplements and foods which may reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation.
So what are Antioxidants?
An antioxidant is any substance that delays, prevents or removes oxidative damage
to a target molecule.
Antioxidants aid in the prevention of certain degenerative diseases such as cancers, oxidative stress dysfunctions and cardiovascular and neurological diseases. Studies reveal antioxidants work in three different capacities:
In basic terms, the first stage involves the release of preventative compounds that suppress the generation of ROS (Isaksson & Andersson, 2008), the second stage involves the use of radical-scavenging antioxidants to inhibit initiation of the oxidation chain, prevent chain propagation and terminate chain reaction by forming a stable by-product (Alonso-Alvarez et al., 2004) and finally, the third stage of antioxidant defence repairs damages caused by free radicals (Olsson et al., 2008).
Antioxidants received from dietary sources may be beneficial in reducing the effects caused by of ROS and may also improve recovery following strenuous exercise. Antioxidant rich ‘super-foods’ have been heavily investigated due to their high content of polyphenolic compounds, some of these super-foods include:
Polyphenols are plant-derived compounds found in fruits and vegetables that contain the potent antioxidant anthocyanin.
FOOD ANTHOCYANIN CONTENT (MG.L-1)
Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice 9117
Grape (red) 300-7500
Sweet Cherry 20-4500
These super-foods due to their high anthocyanin content may optimise recovery from strenuous exercise. As stated previously, strenuous exercise results in muscle damage as a primary response which is followed by protein oxidation and lipid per-oxidation causing increased pain and reduction in function. The increase in inflammatory cells causes an additional accumulation of ROS which starts a cycle further increasing inflammation.
Foods with a high concentration of anthocyanins may be beneficial in recovery from
exercise by inhibiting inflammatory enzymes and oxidative stress.
The benefits of consuming these ‘super-foods’ is manifold, from a health viewpoint, as oxidative stress is linked to cancer development by causing injury to cells, inducing gene mutation and other degenerative diseases, evidence proves high amounts of antioxidants can reduce the ROS level in individuals who overproduce ROS and may aid in protecting them from cancer. From a fitness viewpoint, improving recovery time from strenuous exercise is advantageous and necessary to maintain high levels of performance.
Follow a training programme from a qualified exercise professional and consume a diet rich in antioxidant ‘super-foods’ to ensure that you are developing you inherent antioxidant system.
For sport specific advice and other dietary advice please view our store.
Dietary aids/supplements can be beneficial we recommend Inner Angel Wellness and their brand of all natural supplement.
A high potency acai berry formulation containing acai berry, resveratrol,
grape seed extract and pomegranate all very high in anthocyanin content.
An organic multi-herbal nutrient dense formula containing 14 ‘super-food’ ingredients ensuring your body gets is recommended daily allowance in nutrients and aids in the production of systematic antioxidants.
A highly concentrated combination of beetroot extract and Montmorency cherry extract. This supplement acts as both an ergogenic aid improving performance due to high levels of dietary nitrate (promoting high levels of systematic nitric oxide in the blood aiding performance) and as a powerful antioxidant containing some of the highest amounts of anthocyanins due to the presence of Montmorency tart cherries making it a potent antioxidant.
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