2,500 years ago Hippocrates (the father of Western medicine) coined the term “food is medicine.” While there is no doubt that advances in medicine have significantly improved the quality (and length) of life, the notion that food can play just as an important role in maintaining and augmenting health is making its comeback. And in the tastiest way possible.
Besides its stunning golden hue, Turmeric is also one of the most nutritious foods out there. Turmeric contains curcumin – a compound with impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
For any athlete, inflammation is the natural result of stress (training), the release of cortisol, and the breaking down and building of muscle mass. While inflammation is a necessary component of training, excessive inflammation greatly inhibits recovery. So any food that blocks the inflammatory compounds should be a staple of an athlete’s diet. Curcumin specifically blocks NF-kB, a molecule that triggers inflammation genes*.
Athlete’s also should seek antioxidant rich foods. In a nutshell, antioxidants block free radicals. Free radicals attack normal cells, and in the absence of antioxidants free radicals can have devastating effects on typical body processes. In addition to providing antioxidants, Curcumin boosts the body’s own production of antioxidants.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property (and anti-Alzheimer, anti-cancer, anti-arthritis*…the list goes one), Turmeric tastes delicious. It’s subtle spiciness pairs perfectly with both sweet and savory dishes. It adds an unexpected but welcome punch to tea, oatmeal, and smoothies. Recently I’ve been seasoning roasted potatoes with turmeric, and developed my new go-to morning oatmeal recipe.
In addition to turmeric, the ginger, cinnamon and maple syrup make this a beautiful and delectable morning treat. I add collagen peptides (an unflavored protein that has good for your gut properties), and top with greek yogurt (probiotics!) and nut butter (healthy fats!). This would be perfect for your pre-race meal, or even some added nutrition in the days leading up to the big race. Give it a try and let me know what you think!