Every runner or aerobics aficionado knows that strenuous exercise makes you sweat. With sweating comes loss of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium which are critical to proper physiological function, especially cardiac function. However, did you know that you can also lose iron through running?
Yes, as you run, sweat and use the big muscles in the legs, the body’s red blood cells break down and lose the iron that helps carry oxygen to the heart and to all the body’s musculature. That iron can be replaced, though, by intentionally and regularly adding the right foods to your healthy diet.
The use of super foods, those foods that are naturally nutritionally dense, is on the upswing among those individuals who want to get the most fuel out of every bite they take. One of the easiest, most economical and yummiest super food additions is spinach.
This dark green, leafy super food is known to suppress inflammatory responses in the body and other autoimmune issues as well. This would include the wear and tear joint responses endured by runners and other professional and amateur athletes. Other autoimmune diseases that super foods help with are diabetes, lupus and allergies. Many runners report that they enjoy a quicker recovery after a run when they consciously add super foods such as spinach to their diets.
Perhaps most important is the rich supply of iron spinach can contribute to the diet. Popeye always depended on spinach for his strength, and his wisdom can be proven out as red blood cells thrive with the iron spinach provides.
How can you add the dark green leafiness of spinach to what you and your family consume each day?
It’s not as hard as you might think.
Begin by purchasing a one pound bag of spinach at the market. This should cost $4 to $5 and will go a long way. Then, start in the morning and work the spinach into your meals and snacks throughout the day. Here are some tasty, easy ways to do that.
Plenty of people drink these for breakfast. When making a sweet, fruit smoothie with bananas, strawberries, orange juice and soy milk, add a handful of spinach to the food processor or drink maker. The taste is mild, and not bitter as some other leafy vegetables can be; so, it will blend right in with your other ingredients and add that all important iron.
- Chili and soups.
Depending on the size of the pot, add one or two handfuls of spinach toward the end of your cooking time. The spinach will melt down nicely, not dominate the taste of the soup or chili and still keep its iron-rich properties.
- Salads and sandwiches.
Replace your usual lettuce with spinach in a green salad or in subs/hoagies, BLTs, burgers and even tacos, quesadillas and fajitas.
- Warm greens.
For a quick veggie dish at dinner time, wilt a skillet full of spinach with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar and salt and pepper. It takes just a few minutes to wilt and warm the spinach, and it’s ready to enjoy.
- Eggs and casseroles.
Many people enjoy green and red peppers in their scrambled eggs. Spinach will work well , too. It can also be added to many casserole dishes such as macaroni and cheese (even the boxed variety).
Remember to be proactive in adding super foods to your diet. Most, such as spinach, can be easily incorporated into the dishes and beverages you already enjoy.