There are many great benefits of exercise. However, as the old saying goes, every coin has two sides. Exercise creates large amount of free radicals. During vigorous exercise, cellular mitochondria work extra hard pumping out energy to support the activity. With generation of energy, free radicals are also generated. Free radicals not only cause injury to skeletal muscles and fatigue but also damage DNA and other cellular structures therefore accelerate inflammation and aging.
If you exercise regularly, make sure you’re getting enough antioxidants in your diet. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals and minimize the damage they do. Research shows that antioxidants such as beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E help to prevent injury to skeletal muscles and decrease fatigue during endurance events.
Antioxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other foods. Try to boost your intake of antioxidants through your diet. Keep the rainbow in mind to ensuring that you’re getting enough antioxidants in your diet. The greater the variety of colors in your fruits and vegetables, the more antioxidants you are taking in. Shoot for at least five or more servings every day.
Here are some natural sources of antioxidants:
Beta carotene: This nutrient is found in red, green, yellow and orange foods such as:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green leafy lettuce, spinach, kale, collard and turnip greens
- Romaine lettuce
Vitamin C: The sunshine vitamin is plentiful in fruits and veggies, particularly:
- Citrus fruits
- Green, leafy lettuce-spinach, kale; mustard, turnip or collard greens
- Broccoli, cauliflower
- Red and green peppers
Vitamin E: This vitamin is in:
- Wheat germ
- Sunflower seeds
- Green leafy lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens
Selenium: You’ll find this mineral in protein-rich foods such as:
- Fish and shellfish
- Red meats
- Brazil nuts
- Whole grains
Get moving, take antioxidants and reap the many benefits of exercise.
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