Eat Your Way to Flexibility 7 Ways

Flexibility may be something that most of us take for granted. If you think about it though a lot of our quality of life depends on how flexible we are. Consider for a moment how many times you get up and walk, lift things and bend over without even thinking about the muscles we use to do these. If you have ever suffered from muscle or joint pain or cramps, you may have a different perspective on being able to perform these tasks. And of course as we age we tend to lose some of the flexibility we had when we were younger. There are steps to take that can help maintain flexible muscles and joints including exercises that require stretching. These types of exercises are not only helpful to loosen up muscles and joints before doing heavier exercise, but by themselves increase oxygen levels in the body, reduce tightness and tiredness of muscles and increase your physical energy. Adding just 15 minutes of yoga or other stretching type exercise to your morning routine can go a long way in helping to maintain your body’s flexibility.

Food to Stay Flexible
There are also certain types of foods that can help your body with flexibility by keeping joints and muscle tissue hydrated and allowing muscles to grow. Here are 7 foods to add into your diet if you are looking to increase your flexibility.

1. Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard, barley grass, seaweeds and sea vegetables, spirulina, chlorella, and AFA bluegreen algae are high in water to help rid the body of acids, give you extra nutrients and boost metabolism. Vegetables such as these that are high in beta carotene, calcium and iron are particularly good at increasing the body’s flexibility. Foods high in antioxidants also help with flexibility by fighting off the damage free radicals can do to cells that can lead to inflammation in joints and muscles. Besides healthy joints and muscles, ligaments and tendons need to be strong and healthy to support flexibility. Eating vegetables rich in sulfur aids in the formation of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate these connective tissues need. Vegetables rich in sulfur include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion, radishes, garlic and Brussels Sprouts.

2. Algae
There are various forms of algae including spirulina, chlorella and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) that contain a wide variety of nutrients including essential fatty acids, proteins, minerals, vitamins and chlorophyll. Whereas spirulina, a type of bluegreen algae, does have beta carotene and B vitamins to strengthen muscles and add to their flexibility and chlorella, a green algae, is full of nucleic acids, amino acids, peptides, polysaccharides, and minerals that can also help with flexibility, I prefer the AFA bluegreen alage. It not only has all the nutrients of these other two, but also is the only edible freshwater bluegreen algae in the world that grows abundantly in the wild, and is considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. Most spirulina and chlorella products are artificially grown in concrete raceways, ponds and tanks and use a drying process that involves high heat even when freeze-drying is used. Heat destroys micronutrients and the enzymatic activity.

Besides eating straight AFA bluegreen algae, I find this supplement that combines AFA bluegreen algae with ubiquinol, the active and bioavailable form of Coenzyme Q10 and organic reishi and oyster mushrooms provides lots of antioxidants the body uses to repair cellular damage from free radicals and boost energy. Since many of us turn to caffeine for an energy boost and caffeine actually interferes with the muscles’ ability to lengthen, this provides a caffeine-free alternative that is much more supportive of flexibility.

3. Water
Hydrating with water is essential for lubricating joints and maintaining the elasticity of muscles. Muscles are actually made up of 75% water so drinking enough water daily supports flexible muscles as well as tendons. In addition to drinking throughout the day, drinking water before exercise and first thing in the morning will get your muscles and joints ready for the day’s activity.

4. Protein
You need protein to build and preserve strong muscle and maintain muscle integrity and strength. Good protein sources include white meat poultry, fish, beans, soy products, whole grains, broccoli, kale, spinach, squash, and AFA bluegreen algae. Protein powder drinks are another good source of protein and add to your hydration. This smoothie mix, composed of pure organic whey protein from rBGH-free cattle, has 22 grams of protein, as well as sprouts, protein-digesting enzymes and AFA bluegreen algae added in.

5. Grains and Seeds
Many types of whole grains and seeds can be sprouted which adds to their antioxidant benefits and have omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce inflammation in joints. Eating carbohydrates after a workout helps your body produce insulin which is needed for muscle building and they help replenish your energy after an extreme workout by replacing glycogen and glucose. Good foods in this category include quinoa, wild rice, millet, amaranth, and sprouted broccoli, clover, or radish seeds.

6. Healthy Fats
There are fats you want to avoid like trans-fats and animal fats that can increase cholesterol levels, but healthy fats are necessary for brain health, energy, healing and keeping hormones balanced. Including a balance of fat types in the diet can also help act as a natural anti-inflammatory. Most people get more than enough saturated fat already in their diets, so focus on including a balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids are another good addition to the diet. Watch out overdoing the omega-6 fatty acids however as this can cause more inflammation than necessary. The optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 3:1. One way to be sure you get the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is taking AFA blue-green algae since it has the exact ratio of fatty acids the human body needs. Food sources for healthy fats include avocados, olives, nut butters, coconut and coconut milk, almonds and almond milk, oily fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, and flax, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp and chia seeds.

7. Micronutrients
Our connective tissues are what let our muscles lengthen and stretch and adding certain micronutrients to your diet will help keep these in good shape. Zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C and vitamins B1 and B6 are especially critical to maintain healthy tendons and ligaments. You can also boost your intake of copper and zinc by eating foods such as crimini mushrooms, collard greens, spinach, chard, asparagus and cocoa. Other good food sources for zinc include lean beef, pork, oysters, poultry, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, and miso. Food sources for manganese include cocoa, sunflower seeds, flax, wheat germ, oats, brown rice, green beans, collard greens, spinach, and chard. Vitamin C is an antioxidant used for making collagen in bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and blood vessels and repairing damaged tissues. Good food sources for vitamin C include berries, oranges, cantaloupe, Bell pepper, potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes and broccoli. We can replenish the body’s supply of B vitamins naturally by replacing the probiotics or “friendly bacteria” in our intestines. These friendly bacteria produce the B vitamins in our bodies and taking probiotic supplements like acidophilus and bifidus can give the body a boost to keep producing these vitamins. Food sources for B vitamins include dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and Brussel sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, fish such as tuna and cod, poultry, potatoes, lentils, beets and sunflower seeds.

Now you know seven types of foods to add to your diet if you are looking to stay flexible. Flexibility is so important to the movements we make. Don’t take it for granted and wait until your movement is impaired. Adding a few simple diet changes to your life can make all the difference and keep you moving forward with your life on into old age.

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Image courtesy of AmbroFreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sources:
http://www.livingsmartgirl.com/foods-improve-workout-flexibility/
http://www.yogabodynaturals.com/yoga-secrets-whole-foods-flexibility/
http://www.mindmuscleyoga.com/blog/food-for-flexibility

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