You’ve been reading for years about the health advantages of following a Mediterranean-type diet; one that is low in saturated fats and high in fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, cereals and moderate alcohol consumption.
One more piece of support is the latest research suggesting that even those with a greater than average genetic predisposition for cardiovascular disease can reduce their risk by following this diet.
The latest research published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found that men eating a Mediterranean-style diet had greater heart rate variability (HRV) than those eating a Western-type diet. Heart rate variability refers to variation in the time interval between heart beats during everyday life — reduced HRV is a risk factor for coronary artery disease and sudden death.
“This means that the autonomic system controlling someone’s heart rate works better in people who eat a diet similar to a Mediterranean diet,” said Jun Dai, M.D., Ph.D., study author and assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Indiana University in Bloomington.
In my opinion the news of this research is exciting on two fronts. First, it’s simply another strong piece of support on the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet. As far as diets are concerned, the fads come and go with the frequency of the most popular Hollywood starlets, but eating based on the Med’ program is a solid, proven foundation for optimal health.
Secondly, it’s another support piece on the power of healing through diet and lifestyle changes. Not to get on a soapbox, but our society is too quick to look to a pill or potion to solve our health problems. What we really need to do is examine our lifestyles and make subtle and permanent changes which can positively affect our lives. Obviously the Mediterranean diet is a step in that direction.
We’ve all jumped on the scale or looked at ourselves in the mirror and decided we need to lose a couple of pounds and go on a diet. What is it about that word that makes us think of being hungry, almost tortured and unable to enjoy life as we know it? What an evil word it is, indeed.
My version of a diet is looking at my weight as a lifetime, work in progress. Sure, I want to look great all the time, but I know that my weight is going to fluctuate during the year and I accept it. I do, however, make minor changes in my daily routine to deal with it. For example, I’ll cut my portions, not eat after dinner or ride my bike more often in order to meet my goals.
What I don’t do is start a strict regimen of carefully chosen and tough-to-stick-with foods/meals that almost guarantee failure. A good rule of thumb is the more strict the diet (regardless of the promised outcome), the higher the likelihood of failure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to just eat what you want and it’s all going to be good. I’m telling you that minor changes, incorporated over a lifetime, will give you the best probability of long-term success. That’s what we all should really focus on, being our healthiest best over a lifetime, and not just looking good for this summer’s vacation.
After finishing something as monumental as a marathon, your body is going to be quite fatigued. It’s simply not the tiredness you’ll feel an hour or two post-run, it’s the deep core fatigue that often transpires days after the event. Add on top of that you probably have to be back to work on Monday morning, so your ability to lounge around for a few days is probably not possible. But there are some simple steps you can take to make sure your recovery is as fast, complete and pain-free as possible.
Even a 1% loss in fluids tremendously hampers your body’s ability to repair the damage from a full marathon. Water is critical in every metabolic process and if your body is even slightly dehydrated, it simply can’t fully recover.
Sure it’s good to know that you burned a ton of calories during the run and that it may contribute to a bit of extra fat loss, but cutting calories post-race is a sure-fire way to stifle recovery. Just as with hydration, the millions of metabolic processes within the body count on nutrients from food. Also, too few calories will have you burning that hard-earned muscle for fuel and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs. Try adding an extra snack or two to your regular meals for 3-4 days after the marathon. It will help to top off those severely depleted muscle glycogen stores and provide an assortment of nutrients the body needs to recover and repair.
If you could take a microscope and look at your legs’ mitochondria after a long run they would look like a war zone. The incredible amounts of oxygen processed cause tremendous oxidative damage and free radical production within your body.
You have a natural recovery mechanism to repair cellular damage but extreme events can overwhelm it and the end result is delayed and incomplete repair. Antioxidants like vitamins E and C and phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols directly support your recovery and support mitochondrial repair and counter oxidative damage. Great sources of phytonutrients are colorful fruits and vegetables. Here is where Bazi shines in its Phyto8 Blend. The 8 superfruits in Bazi are rich in carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols.
4. Active Recovery/Stretch
Years ago the theory was to not move or exercise at all in order to recover from an extreme effort. Today, we know that low intensity movement can actually enhance recovery. Go for a 30 minute walk and finish off with 10 minutes of stretching for the first 3-4 days after your marathon. The movement will support recovery, flush out toxins and will work out the “knots” that always come with an extreme effort.
There is an old saying that “Improvement happens outside of the gym.” Remember, exercise is simply the stimulus to have the body adapt and become stronger; the adaptation happens during recovery. Sleep is paramount. Don’t think you need just one or two nights of extra rest, many world class endurance athletes will get an extra 2 hours a night for a week after major events.
Sure, a marathon is grueling and challenging event, and finishing it is an accomplishment to be proud of. If you follow these simple suggestions, they will help keep the euphoria of crossing the line lasting for many days after.