Spartans like to be healthy. Duh: it is part of the plan of bettering yourself. As you move from couch to course, one of the best things you can do to become a better athlete is evaluating what you put into your body. Nutrition is perhaps the single most important thing you can dial in to aid recovery, sleep, and overall wellness. Plus, by eating the right foods to balance your internal body chemistry (think: low inflammation, proper pH levels, sufficient vitamins and minerals... you get the gist) you support your immune system and recovery capabilities.
Want to step up your game and improve your overall health? Look no further than your cupboard or fridge for lemons, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda. By adding these three simple pantry items to your diet, you reap huge health benefits. Here's why.
Natural Health Remedies: 3 Pro-Recovery Foods to Add To Your Diet
Lemons are cheap, easy to get and provide a magnitude of health benefits. They are refreshing, nourishing, and packed with vitamins C, B6, A, and E, as well as phosphorus, folate, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and calcium. Plus, lemons are rich in magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc — all commonly depleted within the body during endurance exercise.
PRO TIP: Multi-vitamin? Not me: I just squeeze half a lemon in some water and I am good to go.
Be aware that you should not overuse lemons because they are acidic and can cause an upset stomach and problems for your teeth. 1/2 to 1 lemon per day is a sweet spot.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another cheap, easy-to-get home remedy to promote health. Putting about a teaspoon in eight ounces of water daily can help to maintain blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and improve health. Although it does not contain dozens of vitamins and minerals, it does have potassium and is low in sodium, both of which are helpful in endurance recovery. It also works well in “cleanses” of your body, which helps to reboot your system, and remove waste, fat, and impurities from your body. Apple cider vinegar also helps reduce inflammation.
PRO TIP: Purchase raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains “the mother,” an active bacterial culture, which is what provides many of benefits covered here.
It, like lemons, also has side effects. Apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, and if you are diabetic, taking too much can cause low blood sugar. As with any nutrition plan change, make sure you consider everything before you implement a new change to your diet and consult your healthcare provider.
Related: Kombucha: Food of the Week
Baking soda, surprisingly, has been used for years to help with cold or sickness recovery or indigestion. When mixed with apple cider vinegar, it is said to have the ability to reduce inflammation and create an alkaline environment in your body. You can do this with lemon as well.
PRO TIP: Use it sparingly in your diet. It is best used when you have a cold, are starting to feel sick, or feel nauseated.
If you want to take it to reduce inflammation, do so occasionally, not daily. Too much baking soda will cause problems such as high sodium, cramps, and possibly increased stomach acid production.
The Bottom Line: Natural Health Remedies
When you work out, train for endurance races and tax your body, you create inflammation. You can mix a morning tonic of a cup of warm water, half of a lemon, two capfuls of apple cider vinegar, and teaspoon of baking soda and take it on an empty stomach to help reduce inflammation, hydrate you, balance your pH levels and promote recovery. But please do not make any changes to your diet without consulting a health professional if you feel you are at risk for, or have, diabetes or other health concerns. And don't over do it.