Health & wellbeing explained
Health and wellbeing is an essential part of keeping healthy, especially with the winter months fast approaching. This week is all about providing yourself with the correct nutrients, which allow you to remain fighting fit, give yourself a detox and most importantly, make it happen.
Vitamins and Minerals
The foods we eat contain vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients provide our bodies with the ability to perform countless biological activities such as hormone production, bone formation and immune system support.
Minerals are found naturally occurring in the soil and the production of vitamins begins with photosynthesis (plants creating energy from sunlight). A deficiency in any single vitamin or mineral may interfere with your body’s ability to function properly, which could ultimately hinder performance.
In addition to a wide variety of foods (mentioned below), vitamins and minerals can be found in a wide range of Bio-Synergy, Super7, Active Woman and ActiVeman supplements, including Bio-Synergy Big Red Krill Oil, ActiVeman multivitamin, Super7 Super Armour and Active Woman multivitamin.
Taking supplements such as the ones previously mentioned will allow you to hit the essential minerals and vitamins your body requires without worrying about whether or not you missed specific fruits or vegetables.
Think of fruits as an “insurance package”. When you go on holiday you usually buy travel insurance, right? Chances are, you might not get injured, but if you do, you are covered.
Taking a multivitamin is like travel insurance, you are covering all the “what ifs” and potential unpleasantries that can be easily avoided. When you put in hard work into your training and are faced with a setback due to illness and low immunity, chances are, you are kicking yourself wishing you provided your body with the essential nutrients.
That said, it is still important to eat a healthy, balanced diet in which the supplements are just an addition to your daily intake. Eating endless amounts of fruits and vegetables can be a boring task and one, which is easy to forget. However, with the Bio-Synergy Fruit Infuser, you can make fruit fun.
This innovative device lets you enjoy all of the delicious flavours and essential nutrients in one easy to consume drink. Simply add your favourite fruits and drinks to the chamber, fill the bottle with water and leave in the fridge overnight for maximum nutrient absorption.
It’s Dinner Time. Do You Know Where Your Vitamins Are?
Theoretically, it is possible to meet your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals from eating a wide variety of whole foods.
That means consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains and meats every day. In other words, different types of foods will offer different types of vitamins and minerals; for example, lean ground beef offers plenty of iron, milk provides calcium, nuts and seeds provide vitamin E. If you’re eating a widely varied diet that includes meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts and seeds you may have adequate vitamin and mineral intake.
Let’s stop for a minute and summarise some of the key points. Although you could theoretically meet your entire vitamin and mineral needs through nutritional whole foods, there are a few variables to consider. Some of these variables are summarised as follows:
There is a theory that farming soils are depleted of nutrients because of over-farming, contributing to fruits and vegetables having less than optimal levels of nutrients
- You need to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily
- Extreme cooking of vegetables under high temperatures can significantly reduce their vitamin content
- Smoking may contribute toward losses in calcium, vitamin C and B vitamins
- Alcohol consumption may contribute toward losses in C and B vitamins
- Coffee may contribute toward losses in calcium, vitamin C and B vitamins
If any of these factors are of personal concern, there is a possibility that consuming additional vitamins and minerals may benefit. Additionally, studies have also confirmed that calcium and vitamin D reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which if taking the right supplements, can be avoided.
Although some nutritionists frown upon vitamin and mineral supplementation, there is some agreement that certain groups of the population may benefit.
These groups include the following examples:
- Female athletes, due to their tendency to minimise their calorie intake
- Women in general are at risk of iron deficiencies
- Strict vegans and vegetarians can be at risk. Some key nutrients can only be obtained from consuming foods from animal sources or consuming fortified foods
- High fibre diets may suppress the optimal absorption of micronutrients
- Athletes who regularly engage in calorie restricted diets while maintaining an active lifestyle may be at risk for nutrition deficiencies
Should you supplement your vitamin and mineral intake or not? The following questionnaire may help you formulate a decision.
- Are you a vegetarian or a strict vegan?
- Do you regularly engage in strenuous activities?
- Are you guilty of not eating several servings of green vegetable each day?
- Are you guilty of not eating several servings of red, yellow and orange vegetables each day?
- Do you eat canned vegetables?
- Do you boil or fry your vegetables?
- Do you ever engage in calorie-restricted diets?
- Do you have a high-stress job?
- Are you regularly stressed due to personal situations?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you drink regularly?
- Are you a ‘partier’ (regular, excessive drinking)?
- Do you drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea or colas?
- Do you regularly eat fast food?
- Do you regularly get sick (barring real medical issues), such as frequent colds?
- Do you eat ‘store bought’ vegetables and not vine ripened organic ones?
If you answered yes more than you answered no, you could be a candidate for needing additional vitamin and mineral intake.
Minerals are considered to be ‘non-organic’ because they are found naturally occurring in the earth. In other words, they are not produced by any living organism… they’re just there! Minerals are some of the lowest common denominators of life. They cannot be broken down, metabolised or processed into another form. Some of these basic elements include:
These minerals (and much more) are the very foundation of our body’s structure and existence. Aside from all of the water (around 70%), our bodies are largely comprised of various minerals.
Vitamins are considered to be ‘organic’ because they are produced from living organisms. Most vitamins are produced by plants when they absorb energy from sunlight. This energy, when combined with water and carbon dioxide in the plant, produces carbohydrates, oxygen and vitamins.
Vitamins act as catalysts to processes in the body. They help to optimise countless biological functions, ensuring that your body is working to its full potential. Vitamins do not provide energy in themselves; instead, they assist in producing energy.
For example, B vitamins play a very important part in releasing energy from foods and the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Vitamins are classified into two general categories; fat and water-soluble. The terms fat-soluble and water-soluble simply refer to how vitamins are transported and stored in the body. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are transported with fats throughout the body and are stored in fatty tissues and the liver. Since they store in fatty tissues, fat-soluble vitamins stay in the body for an extended period of time.
Water-soluble vitamins C and B-Vitamins move a little freer as they are transported along with water through membranes. They are eliminated from the body fairly quickly.
Vitamins, Minerals and Free Radicals
Many vitamins and minerals offer antioxidant protection against the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that lack a stable electronic charge. Every molecule should have a pair of electrons in an outer orbit circling opposite each other… kind of acting as a counter balance to each other.
If there is only one electron in this outer orbit, there is an imbalance and the entire molecule becomes unstable. In order to become balanced again, the unstable molecule ‘searches’ for another molecule in
order to ‘steal’ the needed electron.
In our bodies, the free radical may ‘steal’ the needed electron from a healthy cell. The healthy cell could be a
muscle cell, fat cell, tendon, bone and almost any other example you can think of. Once the free radical ‘steals’ the electron from the healthy cell, the once healthy cell is now unstable and essentially becomes a free radical. It ‘steals’ an electron from the neighbouring cell which in turn becomes unstable. This process can easily get out of hand and spread through healthy tissues.
Free radicals move throughout the body where they can kill cells, disrupt membranes and destroy enzymes. When you cut into an apple and let it sit for a few minutes, the flesh begins to discolour. This process is called oxidation and is a visual example of what free radicals can do to the cells in your body. It is thought that free radicals may be responsible for a variety of diseases and ailments.
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid free radicals… they are everywhere. A major misconception is that they only come from pollution; not true. Although pollutants such as exhaust fumes and smoke may increase free radicals, so do a lot of other things.
You’ll ingest free radicals no matter what you do, no matter where you go.
Take a drink of coffee… you are getting them. Have a sandwich… they are probably there. Even strenuous exercise can increase the effects of free radicals in the body. The answer to combating free radicals is in the refuge of antioxidants.
Anti-oxidants have the ability to ‘share’ electrons with free radicals, resulting in a free radical that attaches to an antioxidant instead of a healthy cell thereby neutralising it. Some examples of common anti-oxidants are: Vitamin C & E and Green Tea.
We are fortunate that some vitamins are water soluble and some fat soluble. This helps us to get antioxidant support in all areas of our bodies; both the liquid and the fatty regions. By the way, not every fatty region of the body is around your belly or thighs!
Your muscles for example are protected with a sheath of fats, as is your brain. Note: Although many people may be able to meet their daily requirements for micronutrients from whole foods, active individuals may want to supplement their diet with some form of vitamin and mineral product in order to guard against nutritional deficiencies.
Water and Cell Volumisation
Just consider one may be able to survive for up to two weeks or longer without food but only a few days without water. Water should not be overlooked as an essential nutrient! Water is a nutrient that must be continually flushed through the body in order to eliminate toxins, deliver vitamins and minerals, conduct electrical impulses and properly hydrate the body.
It may be best to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day to support optimal health and cell volumisation. Cell volumisation is a term that should not be confused with the term ‘water retention’. Volumisation is a term that refers to the effects that happen when water is absorbed into muscle cells. When this occurs, the actual size of the muscle cells may increase, providing a ‘pumped’ look and feel. Water retention is water that is stored outside of the muscle cell and may result in a bloated, smooth look.
When a muscle cell is volumised, it may trigger protein synthesis, minimise tissue breakdown and may also increase glycogen synthesis. This could equate to new muscle growth, larger and stronger muscle fibres, increased muscular energy and faster recovery.
Think of each muscle cell as a water balloon that can let water in or let water out. Muscle cells are made up of at least 70% water. So the more water that is absorbed into muscle cells, the fuller and more pumped they look and feel. If a muscle cell is dehydrated, it may take on a flat, flaccid look and feel.
Water: The Basics
- Water is an essential nutrient and drinking too little can significantly affect how you feel and perform at home, at work and in the gym.
- While minimal levels of dehydration (less than 2%) probably won’t impact performance, higher levels of dehydration have a significant negative impact on exercise performance, particularly for endurance athletes. High levels of dehydration also increase an athlete’s risk of heat-related illness.
- For everyday exercisers, water is the best beverage to consume before, during and after exercise. Endurance athletes and others training at high levels may benefit from the addition of carbohydrate and electrolyte containing beverages during and post-exercise to maintain optimal levels of hydration.
- The amount of fluid you should consume varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors including level of fitness, weather conditions, activity and sweat rate.
The ‘4 glasses of water a day’ idea may be a myth, but it’s a decent place to start. In general, you should drink enough fluid during the day so your urine is a light yellow colour. In addition, follow the ACSM’s guidelines, which recommend that athletes:
- Drink 0.5 to 1 litres of fluid two to three hours before exercise
- Drink 0.2 to 0.4 litres of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise
- Drink 0.5 to 0.6 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise
During and after exercise, drink enough fluid to replace all the water lost through sweating – and err on the side of consuming more than enough to ensure proper hydration. If you exercise for more than an hour at a time, you may also want to consume sports drinks to replenish lost electrolyte stores as well.
Water can be made significantly more fun with the Bio-Synergy Fruit Infuser. Make it happen.