Do functional foods improve workouts?

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Functional training is about developing movement patterns and improving motor performance. The term also refers to foods that positively affect the human body.

Functional foods

Under the term are products of natural origin, the beneficial effect of which on the body has been demonstrated by research. Functional food can reduce the risk of certain diseases, support metabolic processes, strengthen immunity, regulate the work of internal organs and improve well-being.

The sources of such thinking about food can be found in East Asia. It was in these regions that food constituted a cure for ailments that tormented the population and protected it against further illnesses. Currently, this type of treatment is called diet therapy, and functional food is its main element.

Products are officially recognized as functional when they are scientifically proven to significantly affect at least one function in the body, beyond providing nutritional value, and impact current health or reduce the risk of disease.

Origin of functional foods

The best examples of functional foods are foods that are naturally derived, low in processing, healthy, and rich in vitamins and nutritious micronutrients.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find all-natural products in the current state of food production, so we can talk about modified functional foods. The origin and production is different from the long-standing Asian thinking, but the impact on the human body is still visible and demonstrable.

Modification of functional foods is primarily aimed at increasing the amount of nutrients and maximizing its effects. Genetics and biotechnology have become helpful in this aspect. Science supports the health-promoting effects of foods and helps reduce the presence and effects of substances that are harmful to the body.

Some of the chemical ingredients and substances that can be found in functional foods include prebiotics, unsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, amino acids, probiotic bacteria, vitamins, antioxidants, choline, lecithin or polyols.

Examples of functional foods

Products that meet the requirements of functional food can be divided into several basic groups, in which specific products fall. Groups rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include:

– fatty fish,
– Flax seeds,
– soybeans,
– walnuts.

The second type are products with sterols, which lower cholesterol. Such foods can include margarines and yogurts. There are also foods with probiotic activity, that is, helping the digestive system, regulating metabolic processes and supporting the bacterial flora of the stomach or intestines. This group includes, among others, products based on the fermentation of milk, such as kefirs or buttermilk, silages and fermented plant seeds.

One category also includes foods rich in antioxidants, which are substances that cleanse the body and reduce living radicals. This group includes products such as chokeberries, cocoa, blueberries, cranberries and rosehips.

Functional foods and training

A balanced diet is as important an aspect of life for physically active people as exercise. Most of them are aware that a proper diet not only supports the work of the body, but also increases and accelerates the effects of training. The use of functional foods can only positively affect the well-being and health of people who are regularly physically active, so it is a good idea to introduce functional foods into your diet.

The most popular example of functional foods for athletes are high-protein products that help build muscle tissue and provide an adequate portion of protein involved in the recovery of tired muscles.

Most examples of functional foods are plant-based and can come in the form of dietary supplements or tablets, such as ginseng extracts. When planning physical exercise and a balanced diet, it’s worth knowing the properties and examples of functional foods so that they can become a permanent part of your sports menu.

Featured Image: Freepik

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