Let’s be honest- can you truly say that you get the recommended amount of fruits or veggies daily? Since there is a high likelihood that the majority (and by majority, probably over 75 %!) of us will answer no, don’t you think that something needs to change?
Yes, eating more REAL plant based foods is always best, but you probably won’t do that, so what’s the best option? The answer may lie in a good greens and superfood supplement.
What Exactly Are Greens And Superfoods Supplements?
The name actually says it all. These are supplements (oftentimes, in powdered form) that contain an array of plant based nutrients, from many of the most nutritionally dense sources on the planet, as well as some that are not often thought of as being superfoods.
Reasons You Need A Greens/Superfoods Supplement
Besides the very obvious fact that you are probably not getting enough greens in your diet, there are several distinct benefits to including more of them in your diet. These benefits include:
Increased Dietary Fibre Intake
The importance of fibre is sorely underappreciated. Much of the health of your digestive tract, and as an extension, your body as a whole, hinges on getting enough fibre. Sufficient daily consumption can help to offset the occurrence of constipation, helps support healthy probiotic cultures, and helps promote the speedy evacuation of solid waste (faeces).
Not to forget the fact that soluble fibre binds bile acids and cholesterol and can help improve your blood lipid values, an important benefit if you consume a lot of red meat.
Improves pH Balance
The pH of the body is very important to overall health, and to an extent the degree of hypertrophy you experience. pH ranges from a scale of 1-14, with the lower ends of the spectrum representing acidic, and the upper end, alkaline pH.
The body functions best at a pH that is neutral to very slightly alkaline (about 7.4), but sadly many of the foods consumed on the standard Western Diet are very acidic or acid forming. This can have far reaching implication on health, for example, as cancer is believed to thrive under acidic conditions.
Many fruits and vegetables are naturally alkaline or alkaline-forming when consumed, helping to shift the balance of acid/base where it should be. Consuming superfoods/greens powders also do the trick, and help ensure that you can consistently get some of these nutrients in your diet on a daily basis.
Oxidation is the bane of cellular existence. Excessive oxidative damage prematurely damages/destroys cells, and can even have far reaching implication to the DNA level, increasing the risk of an undesirable cellular mutation occurring.
Superfoods and greens with a high ORAC (oxygen radical absorptive capacity) are capable of neutralizing more of these harmful free radicals, and in turn diminishing the effect it can have on your body.
Free radicals can also attack your muscle gains, making this alone reason to get more greens.
What Should A Good Greens/Superfoods Powder Contain?
Known as the king of all alkaline foods, wheatgrass is an excellent source of alkaline minerals[i] and bicarbonate. Its high anti-oxidant content is also said to help reduce the risk of cancers developing.
Wheatgrass also has a plethora of other health benefits as well, including improved digestion which bolsters nutrient absorption, and a metabolic boosting effect. And of course- it is a bonafide treasure trove of nutrients that warrant its inclusion in the first place. Wheatgrass easily checks all the boxes that make a superfood.
While it may sound strange to eat something such as aquatic algae, spirulina is one that can make you think again. Spirulina is basically a bacteria, but not the kind that is deleterious to your health.
Instead, this blue-green superfood has a lot going on for itself. A tiny 7g serving consists of over 50% protein, as well as well as significant amounts of B vitamins and iron. Since bacteria aren’t technically animals, vegans everywhere can rejoice in adding this nutrient dense superfood to their diets.
Most notably to athletes is the fact that spirulina can help improve performance. Studies have shown that it can help improve endurance[ii] and muscle strength, by simultaneously reducing muscular fatigue and oxidative damage that occurs.
Do you need a valid reason to splurge on some more chocolate? Then this could be just the thing you need. Turns out cocoa- but specifically that with over 70% epicatechin content (and made into dark chocolate ONLY), is a surprising health booster.
Epicatechin is an extremely potent anti-oxidant flavonoid, but can also help to enhance muscle gain by reducing cortisol levels and a pesky peptide compound known as myostatin[iii], which puts the brakes on your body’s desire to build muscle.
Think of myostatin as a hall monitor that stops muscles from growing too big; suppress the suppressor and growth kicks in.
Another friendly green algae, this superfood possesses many of the same traits as spirulina in terms of nutritional content, and can also stimulate the immune system. Oxygen uptake is also improved while using chlorella, making for better endurance and resistance to fatigue[iv].
There are a slew of other superfoods that often find themselves included in such supplements, thanks to their excellent benefits on health. These may include:
- Berries- cranberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries for their insane antioxidant content and other flavonoids.
- Barley grass- excellent source of calcium and iron, as well as protein content making it a great vegan protein option.
- Veggies- including kale, spinach, cabbage and broccoli. These add fibre and phytonutrients not found in other plant based foods.
- Enzymes and extracts- may concur protective benefits and also support enhanced absorption of nutrients from the supplement.
Superfoods and greens supplements can be an excellent way to help fortify your diet, especially if you know that you should be doing more when it comes to eating plant based foods. While not a guaranteed solution for anything, consumption of more of these types of foods can contribute to you achieving your athletic goals and improving your health at the same time.
They are a worthy investment in your future, so don’t discount just how important they are.
[i] Gore RD, Palaskar SJ, Bartake AR. Wheatgrass: Green Blood can Help to Fight Cancer. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(6):ZC40–ZC42. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/26316.10057
[ii] Kalafati M, Jamurtas AZ, Nikolaidis MG, et al. Ergogenic and antioxidant effects of spirulina supplementation in humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(1):142–151. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ac7a45
[iii] Gutierrez-Salmean G, Ciaraldi TP, Nogueira L, et al. Effects of (-)-epicatechin on molecular modulators of skeletal muscle growth and differentiation. J Nutr Biochem. 2014;25(1):91–94. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.09.007
[iv] Okada H, Yoshida N, Kakuma T, Toyomasu K. Effect of Chlorella Ingestion on Oxidative Stress and Fatigue Symptoms in Healthy Men. Kurume Med J. 2018;64(4):83–90. doi:10.2739/kurumemedj.MS644001