What exactly is a superfood, and will it transform your life?
Today we list our pick of superfoods you wouldn’t necessarily expect to fall in this category. These are our favourite and most accessible foods that actually work, without breaking the bank.
At Motivate PT, we believe that superfoods should be exactly what they say, super. And while they don’t give you Marvel style superpowers, they can help push your body towards being happier, healthier, and stronger.
1. Green Tea
Forget about all your other fancy flavoured teas, this is the only one you’ll ever need. Green tea has been studied very thoroughly over the years, and is associated with lower blood pressure, reduced rates of cancer and even reduced inflammation. Drinking it regularly helps your body recover from various traumas, like exercise and stressful work environments (and colleagues).
Pro Tip: If you’re not big on hot beverages, throw a teabag in your water bottle. It’s a surprisingly tasty and refreshing way of mixing up your water and packing more goodness into your day.
2. Vitamin D
While technically not a superfood (or a vitamin), it has the ability to change your life. Vitamin D is actually a hormone we create when exposed to sunlight, and can be found in supplement form or foods like salmon and mackerel.
If you’re anything like me, you love the outdoors, but British weather puts you off adventuring.
When I started supplementing, I found I had more energy, my immune system was stronger, and I slept better. Bear in mind that while you can buy this from a pharmacy or health store, you should really check with a doctor before taking this, even though overdosing is hard.
Rich in vitamin C, oranges have been the go to fruit for anyone feeling run down. And rightly so! Their health benefits bolster the immune system while remaining low in calories, with zero fat, sodium or cholesterol.
But before you start chugging orange juice (or worse, drinking vitamin C drinks), bear in mind the benefits actually come from the fruit itself; in drink form it’s just sugar.
Eating the pith (the white fleshy substance surrounding the orange segments), is excellent fibre, helping ‘pick up’ the extra cholesterol in your body, and restoring your body with electrolytes. This is essentially what the impulses from your nerves travel through (think of it like electrical wiring), which are depleted after your workout. This can leave you shaky, and running on a low, so rather than reaching for a sports drink, have an orange or two.
If you’re feeling brave, blend the peel into a smoothie for a really strong citrus drink that will flood your body with anti-inflammatories.
4. St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is surprisingly an amazing way to beat the blues naturally, for anyone who suffers from mild depression, or is feeling low.
It comes from a plant with pretty yellow flowers, so you can get rid of the ‘wart’ images in your head, and is served dried in capsules or as a tea.
While it’s an amazing natural remedy for mild cases of depression, it’s also potent, and can reduce the effectiveness of certain medications. Make sure you visit your doctor or pharmacist before taking it. And remember, improperly treated depression can become severe.
5. Fish Oil
I was going to put salmon here originally, but it’s not the only fish that can give your body an overhaul.
Fish oils support your heart, immune system, and brain, while helping protect against anxiety depression, and cancer. It also helps strengthen bones and joints, which is perfect for heavy lifters.
Fish oils come in many forms, but the best is undoubtedly eating it from the source. Salmon is rich in Omega 3, as is trout, herring and albacore tuna. If you need higher dosage control, capsules are also great, just make sure they’re ethically farmed!
If you’ve ever watched TV, you’ve probably seen an aggressively marketed yoghurt promising digestive health. Probiotic yoghurts are proven to aid in digestion, by balancing the healthy gut bacteria for various benefits. This can improve digestion, colon health, inflammation, blood pressure, and even boost the immune system (there’s some evidence it prevents cavities in children teeth)!
What you need to remember is that while brands like Activia are delicious, they’re filled with refined sugar. Natural probiotic yoghurts are the way to go, especially when you’re feeling off peak. Mix them with berries for a snack, or chuck them in a smoothie for the same benefits.
All of the superfoods listed here have been clinically studied, and are strongly associated with the benefits described. Please note that consensus on how effective these foods are is debated, and they should only be used as an addition to a healthy diet, not in its place.
Let us know your favourite superfoods in the comments box below!
Alexander Bawden – Guest Blogger