Is it possible for athletes to achieve optimum performance through healthy diet alone?
You eat a reasonably good diet, get in some green veggies every day and try to limit the junk food, right? Why then do you need to use nutritional supplements at all? You don’t. Unless you want to achieve optimum levels of performance.
The body is a remarkable machine. It will take just about any food you feed it and turn it into power in order to train. There are a few world-class athletes who train on fast food diets, but they aren’t as good as they could be. There is a dirty little secret the whole food zealots and gurus don’t want you to know. Here it is: even if you are eating 100% clean and healthy, your body is missing critical nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and you are not achieving your optimum performance! In this article we’ll explain why.
The food you eat today is less nutrient dense than food from the past. For example, the broccoli that you purchase in the grocery store is most likely from a hybrid strain known as Marathon. Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture found that Marathon broccoli is about one third lower in calcium and magnesium than other hybrids. Those other hybrids were already 50% lower in calcium and magnesium than the broccoli tested for the 1998 USDA nutrient database.
Agriculture is big business and farmers know what sells in supermarkets. That influences what strains they choose to grow. The first thing a farmer must consider is pest resistance and speed of growth. If a crop gets eaten by bugs, or can’t go from seed to harvest quickly enough, that farmer is out of business. You probably won’t be surprised to learn the fast growing pest resistant crops are not always the most nutritious.
The farmer’s next concern is durability. If the produce can’t get to the store in one piece, nothing else matters. So, farmers select strains that contain a lot of water and pith (a fibrous support structure) that helps durability, but not nutrition. The third thing a farmer looks for is appearance. Will the produce look good sitting on the shelf? If it doesn’t look almost perfect, no one is going to pick it up and buy it. (How many times have you picked up an apple that looked great only to find out it tasted bland and mealy?)
Finally, we come to taste and what sells best in fruits and veggies? A sweet taste. That means that strains that produce a lot of natural sugars are going to be selected over other strains that may be healthier. The level of nutrients in the food is never actually considered in mainstream agriculture when deciding what to plant and sell, but that’s not the only problem.
Conventional agricultural practices have depleted the soil of many important vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Today’s fast growing strains of crops have less time to absorb what is left. This leads to produce with vastly reduced mineral content.
We understand the major minerals and how important they are to good health, but we’ve only recently begun to understand the role of phytochemicals, trace minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants in our food. Unfortunately, the news here isn’t any better.