What is not commonly known, and which remains a pervasive misconception among those wanting optimal health and vitality, is nutrition's primary role in establishing the foundation from which cell rebuilding and repair is achieved.
To gain excellent health and all that stems from it - improved performance in the boardroom and on the sports field included - it is imperative that you do not neglect nutritional requirements. But you knew this, right?
Well it seems many within the health and fitness industry itself consider a diet low in calories - one that is restricted to a few select foods - optimal for the needs of the devoted fitness adherent, who incidentally creates massive free-radical assisted cellular damage every time they train at high levels of intensity. Is a lower calorie diet comprised of rice, tuna, chicken and baked potatoes along with the occasional salad thrown in for good measure enough? Probably not!
The active professional male who works out while maintaining an extensive social life, and who also wishes to stay in shape while experiencing optimal health, needs more in the way of nutritional variability and good place to start is with a complete re-evaluation of their nutritional status. Here they will often find the variety and nutritional composition of the meals they eat sorely lacking.
For example, it is not uncommon to find an athlete's diet centered on rice, pasta, chicken and fish. A review of such an eating plan will uncover serious nutritional deficits. And changing one's protein sources around or adding a few servings of fruits and vegetables per day - while strongly advised - is, though a good start, not ideal.
The real key to prolonged health and improved performance, it appears, is variety and in today's world this invariably means an emphasis on the inclusion of so-called super foods, in the right quantities (1).
So what are these super foods and what do they do exactly? You may have heard the term, but with these foods' strong association with medical research - the resveratrol found in red wine and the studies done on its cardio-protective properties, for example - there is, it seems, an almost mystical quality surrounding super food nutrition that can place the concept beyond more thorough investigation by most.
Simply put, super foods are those rich in special chemicals that promote fast and efficient cellular repair and enhance longevity. So by all means, stick to your current low fat, higher protein and moderate carbohydrate fare comprised of several staple food groups, but do include in your meals - in moderate amounts - the following super foods to supercharge your health, energy and performance. This list is specifically tailored for men performing high intensity training.
Five of the best: the top super foods for men and why you should include them in your diet
Very high in lycopene (a powerful antioxidant which supports prostate health and helps to offset cardiovascular disease), tomatoes should probably be medically prescribed for males seeking to boost their health and well being.
Due to their versatility tomatoes can be included in virtually any dish and unlike many other super foods they do not lose their nutritional potency when cooked. In fact, cooking before consumption actually increases the absorption of their nutrients.
One nutrient men tend to neglect is the omega-3 fatty acids. Though women are encouraged to consume more of these to maintain hormonal health, men, with the ever-developing variety of roles they must adopt, are extra susceptible to exhaustion and, in many instances, cardiovascular and other stress-related diseases. Replenishment of energy reserves is therefore crucial.
Walnuts not only contain a plentiful supply of omega-3 fatty acids and plant sterols, which combine to lower bad LDL cholesterol and boost energy levels, they also provide B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin E and protein. As well as battling arterial disease walnuts have also proven protective against erectile dysfunction, yet another reason for men to include them in their diet. Twenty walnut halves per day are recommended.
Like tomatoes, broccoli contains a substance that can offset the development of prostate cancer and enhance the overall health of this gland. While tomatoes provide lycopene, broccoli contains the cancer-fighting chemical sulforaphane. The combination of 1.5 cups of raw broccoli/2.5 cups of fresh tomato daily has shown to dramatically shrink prostate tumors.
With environmental factors to blame for the increasingly low sperm counts men often experience today, it is worth taking every precaution to guard against this reproductive health concern. Little can often be done to offset immediate environmental issues associated with ill health, but much can to establish the nutritional status needed to fight disease.
Oysters are one key super food that can substantially boost male reproductive health. Two to three of these can provide a full day's supply of zinc, a mineral that assists sperm formation and overall male reproductive health.
Testosterone - the male sex hormone responsible for body composition and energy levels - is also increased in line with elevated dietary zinc levels. Yet another reason to place oysters on your menu tonight.
As a condition often hidden until it is too late, high blood pressure, with its few direct warning signs, is insidious and extremely dangerous and damaging. For men especially, regular medical check ups for any irregular fluctuations in blood pressure are advised. But there is also something we can do to help keep blood pressure as far away from stroke territory as possible.
Recent evidence has pointed to potassium as being an excellent way to maintain healthy blood pressure levels and one food very high in this valuable mineral nutrient is watermelon. In fact, with 664 milligrams of potassium per large slice - with 2000 milligrams being a recommended daily amount - such a serving of watermelon contains more potassium than one large banana.
Watermelon, with its high water content, is also excellent for maintaining an optimal state of hydration in those who work in hot weather or workout with maximal intensity.
Super Charge Your Day
With the buzz surrounding super foods it is probably heartening for those unfamiliar with the term to learn that these health boosters can be found almost anywhere, that you needn't shop at a specialty location to get your daily serving of powerful life-preserving nutrients.
With the busy schedule many men have today it is little surprise that a basic diet comprised of few food types is common. However, to safeguard your most important asset - your health - it is wise to include super foods in your diet, especially those featured in this article.
In addition to those included here there are a multitude of such super foods on the market today. Do the research and build your diet around quality and variability rather than quantity and limited food choices.
- Lycopene. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 2006;51:99-164. Rao AV, Ray MR, Rao LG, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada