Annie confidently walked into boot camp class. She looked around and noticed the age of most of the participants. “It looks like this group is getting younger,” she thought. “It doesn’t matter. I am here to work up a good sweat and get in a workout.” She found a spot mid-way in the room and set up her mat and weights. Twenty minutes into the class, she began to wonder if this had been a good idea. The instructor started off with a bang, taking them through a fast warm-up and warning the fun hadn’t even started yet. “Uh oh,” Annie thought, “time to dig deep and hang in there.”
Later that day, LJ found Annie on the backyard chaise lounge. “Hi babes, how was class?
“I am so sore, and kind of frustrated I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class, and I started lagging about two-thirds into the hour. I really think I need to eat more foods that provide more muscle support. For example, I know iron is important for supplying muscles with oxygen, so they recover faster after a workout and help mitigate fatigue. Still, because we eat a primarily vegetarian diet, we may not be getting enough iron to support muscle strengthening exercises.”
LJ nodded, “you are correct; iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout the body, including to muscles. Without iron or not enough, you feel fatigued, irritable and can develop anemia. So, let’s incorporate legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas & soybeans, hemp and chia seeds, and leafy green veggies, including spinach. All are healthy sources of iron, especially for vegetarians. Primarily plant-based diets are naturally rich in Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron more efficiently and supports the development of collagen and elastin, both vital for flexible muscles, so we will want to pay attention to the amount of C in our food.”
“Okay, more iron-rich and vitamin C foods it is,” said Annie. “I need vitamins B3, 6, 12, and B9 too. These B vitamins are important for muscle growth and recovery. Vitamin B3 (Niacin) promotes muscle growth, and B6 supports the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and nitric acid, which boosts endurance and performance. Vitamin B 12 also helps your body produce red blood cells, which is important for muscle growth. Folate or B9 helps complete the development of red blood cells. Foods sources of the B vitamins are eggs, seeds, bananas, quinoa, chickpeas. spinach, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, avocado, and kidney beans.”
Vitamin A is essential for muscles, said LJ as he handed Annie a sliced mango and cantaloupe plate. “For men, vitamin A is necessary to produce testosterone, and for women and men, it is needed for the breakdown of protein during the muscle repair process.
Let’s include foods high in vitamin E. It supports muscle growth and speeds recovery after a workout. And the positive effect vitamin E has on blood pressure enables blood to flow more easily to muscles.
Vitamin D is essential for muscle and bone health. Bones pull on muscle and vice versa, making them both stronger. Muscle weakness like fatty muscles (fat infiltration in muscle due in part to vitamin D deficiency) jeopardizes overall health, so let’s add foods that are good sources of vitamin D. The higher the level of D, the less fat in muscles, which affects strength and function.”
Annie winced as she carefully got up from the chaise, “maybe I should go shopping now for anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense foods that can help my sore, aching muscles.”
LJ smiled, “that’s a good idea. When you get back, I’ll make a smoothie with bananas, berries, and chia seeds to help you feel better. All are sources of energy that help reduce muscle soreness. Drink lots of water and do some stretching exercises.”
Annie slowly strolled to the car, “walking is out of the question. I’m driving this time.”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.