I mean Minerals as in calcium, magnesium, potassium... not Minerals as in Coke, SevenUp or Lucozade. Ditch the latter, embrace the former.
All athletes, not just jockeys, have to ensure adequate calcium intake. Why? Most processes in life are acid forming, exercise very much so. The body has mechanisms to deal with this acidity to restore balance. Minerals are great buffers, chiefly calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Athletes draw on these buffers a lot, and if you are an athlete who is restricting food intake to achieve low body weight (jockeys, cyclists), you run risk of depleting your calcium stores prematurely and develop osteoporosis.
Take calcium and magnesium, who work together to help the muscles contract (calcium) and relax (magnesium). The body draws on these during exercise to neutralise the acids formed from muscle movement. If calcium is not present in the diet in large enough quantities the body will draw on its stores in the bones.
This works for a while because the body is actually quite good at recycling its own minerals. Much is reabsorbed into the bones. However not all of it is and so you start losing bone density. If you don’t get enough calcium and other minerals from your diet, your body will eventually be depleted and sick: increased recovery times, slowly healing bones, osteoporosis which may reduce life span.
The trouble with calcium is that you don’t know something’s going wrong with you unless you have a DEXA scan or diagnose osteoporosis. That’s why I’m going to show you how you can optimise your intake of this vital mineral in your daily diet. But it’s not as simple as drinking a glass of milk a day for calcium and taking magnesium powder when you cramp up. You need to have a solid nutritional strategy for optimum mineral supply throughout the year.
Most importantly, you need to keep your body in an alkaline state (the opposite of acidic) and feed it all the minerals it needs to buffer the acidity from exercise.
First and foremost, eat mineral-rich wholefoods.
Vegetables, especially spinach, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, kale, asparagus, onions, avocados, peas, sweet potatoes, green beans and beetroot.
Eat 2-3 servings per day, which is easily achieved by eating scrambled egg with asparagus or avocado for breakfast and fish/meat and 2 portions of vegetables for lunch or dinner (a portion is a handful of cooked vegetables).
Fruit, especially blueberries, pears, kiwi, melons, figs, dates, mangoes, bananas, apples, and pineapples.
The wholegrains wheat, rye, quinoa, millet or oats, are a fabulous source, as well as nuts and seeds.
Eat fresh meat, fish, eggs and tofu if you like it.
Have some dairy, best option being full fat as it contains more Vitamin D without which calcium cannot be taken up into your bones. If possible go and organic for a better quality. If you eat from this list every day, you should get enough calcium, magnesium, potassium and other minerals to give you a solid foundation for a long, successful career.
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