Holistic Sports Nutrition for Superior Health and Athletic Performance
Athletes have been known to go to extreme lengths to be number one in their sport. In an ever-competitive world, some are even willing to take dangerous performance-enhancing drugs and supplements, or undergo extreme medical procedures to come out on top—examples include blood doping in professional cycling and steroid use in weightlifting.
But true athleticism happens when the body, mind, and spirit are nourished and free of harmful chemicals. Holistic sports nutrition helps athletes achieve optimal strength, performance, and endurance—naturally.
What Is Holistic Sports Nutrition?
"Holistic" means taking a whole-person approach—mind, body, and spirit. Holistic sports nutrition incorporates the right balance of nutrients for optimum functioning at the cellular level. When optimum cellular functioning is achieved, athletes attain their highest level of fitness, performance, and endurance.
Each athlete is unique, with his or her own biochemical needs, and all athletes need to manage stress and emotional health. Nevertheless, there are some basic guidelines that apply to every athlete. To achieve optimum health and performance, athletes need the right intake of:
- Vitamins and minerals
- A diet with proper Acid-Alkaline balance
The Acid-Alkaline Balance
Let’s focus on proper Acid-Alkaline balance, one of the most important aspects of any proper sports nutrition program.
Traditional sports dietician or sports nutritionist programs often promote acid-forming diets that weaken body tissue, leaving athletes prone to sports injuries. Effective programs, like the sports nutrition degree programs offered by the University of Natural Health, teach the importance of the proper Acid-Alkaline Balance at an 80% alkaline-forming and 20% acid-forming ratio. An alkaline-forming diet oxygenates tissues, resulting in superior athletic performance and endurance, and reduced injuries.
How Does the Acid-Alkaline Balance Work?
An Acid-Alkaline diet involves properly combining foods for optimum nutrition. It’s what we digest and assimilate—not what we eat—that adds to health, strength, endurance, and performance. This doesn’t mean we can eat just anything, however. Processed foods, including refined sugars and refined carbohydrates like white bread and white rice, should be avoided altogether. They provide empty calories that make us hungrier and starve our bodies of the nutrients they need.
Proper pH balance levels in the blood and body tissue are necessary for proper enzyme functioning. The Acid-Alkaline diet provides this balance and promotes the proper combining of foods. Some of the principles of proper food combining include:
- Not consuming starches and sugars together (the sugar-starch combination principle)—for example, having jelly on toast or having honey at the same meal with potatoes is ill advised.
- Not consuming proteins with fats (the protein-fat combination)—for example, do not use butter with meat or oil with eggs.
- Not eating a concentrated protein and a concentrated carbohydrate at the same meal (the protein-carbohydrate principle)—for example, do not eat nuts at the same meal with cereal, or eggs at the same meal with toast.
Commonly consumed foods today, like sandwiches and hamburgers, combine starches with proteins and fats, and our waistlines and blood sugar pay the price. A diet of processed foods and improper food combinations is wreaking havoc on our health and causing an epidemic of deadly diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other problems.
Let’s cover some basics of nutrition to help paint a picture of optimal sports nutrition.
Carbohydrates—These are the main sources of fuel for the body. Complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and brown rice, supply slow-releasing glucose, which helps the body maintain steady blood sugar. Simple carbohydrates, such as white sugar, are absorbed quickly by the body and can cause spikes in blood sugar. Simple carbohydrates should be avoided.
Proteins—The building blocks of life, proteins are vital for the growth, repair, and maintenance of the body’s cells and tissues, including the muscles. Proteins are used by the body in the production of hormones and vital enzymes, and for energy production when glycogen levels have been depleted. While proteins can be attained from animal sources like meat and milk, a vegan diet is ideal. Additional sources of protein include cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and nuts. A vegetarian or vegan diet can provide all of the essential amino acids a person needs, with less fat than an omnivorous diet.
Fats—Fats are essential, providing fuel for the body and cushioning the internal organs. Fats play an important role in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and, K, and they supply essential fatty acids. Athletes need adequate fat supplies to maintain healthy, well-functioning immune and nervous systems. Sports people constantly put their bodies to the test—fats help them regulate water in the body, and they help reduce inflammation, naturally.
Pure Water—Essential for life and proper functioning, hydration is critical for achieving peak performance and in the recovery process after exercise.
The ratio of the essential nutrients—carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—will vary depending on the individual, and taking into account factors like body composition and the type and intensity of training they do.
Mind and Spirit
Holistic sports nutrition is not just about the foods you put into your body. It’s also about nourishing the spiritual and emotional self. Minding the spirit (one’s way of thinking, or mind-set) is also an important part of any holistic sports nutrition program. Those who sow their minds with a spiritual, wholesome view toward living that includes optimum nutrition become more nourished and fulfilled.
Sports nutrition courses teach that superior health is attained when an athlete understands the principles of detoxification and the causes of disease, and has all of the following:
- Pure air
- Pure water
- Adequate rest and sleep
- Regular exercise
- Adequate sunlight
- A natural and hygienic diet
- Mental and emotional balance
- Freedom from addiction
- A motivated, purposeful life with meaningful goals
- Loving and nurturing relationships
How the Holistic Sports Nutrition Philosophy Differs from Traditional Sports Nutrition
Holistic sports nutrition takes the whole person into account—mind, body, and spirit—while traditional sports degrees tend to focus only on the physical body and nutrition—often with an incorrect balance of nutrients and excluding the Acid-Alkaline balance. The spiritual connection is what is missing from traditional sports nutrition programs. True athleticism happens when a person is healthy, happy, focused, and nurtured.
For more information about our sports nutrition degrees, visit http://www.naturalhealthcollege.org/sports-nutrition/sports-nutrition-degrees.php