Welcome to week 1 of Movement Master!
You may be wondering how diet can affect your flexibility. It’s more obvious how diet can help us lose weight or build muscle, but how it can enhance our inner yogi is not often talked about!
Admittedly, diet alone won’t improve your mobility but it can assist! So let’s start with some key nutrients to support you through your 6 week plan.
You may already know that omega-3 can improve mental function and brain health but did you know it can also help to increase flexibility? Omega-3 reduces inflammation, which a natural side effect to common factors such as intense exercise, allergies and pollutants. Sometimes high levels of inflammation can cause pain and makes it harder to stretch your muscles.
Omega-3 also helps to lubricate your joints. Oily fish (think salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel) are the best sources of omega-3 but if you’re on a plant-based diet you can get your fix from pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and almonds (as if you need an excuse for a spoonful of almond butter!)
Try incorporating 2 portions of oily fish into your diet a week, and at least one portion of plant-based omegas into your diet per day. Plant sources need to be converted from an inactive form to an active form (which is done naturally by the body) but as some of the omega-3 is lost in this process, we suggest you eat it more regularly to make sure you’re having enough.
To be fair, most of us underestimate the nutritional power of spices but as they’re high in antioxidants (these are chemicals which occur naturally in foods) they can really help reduce inflammation. Try adding cinnamon, turmeric and ginger to your morning porridge or yoghurt, and load up on turmeric, paprika and cumin in your soups, stews and curries.
It’s no surprise that our bones our crucial to our flexibility. As kids we’re forever encouraged to drink milk and eat yoghurts as they’re both high in calcium, and as 99% of calcium is stored in our bones it’s fair to say our parents had a point. However with the rise in the dairy-free trend comes a risk of calcium deficiencies, which is why it’s essential to ensure you’re eating other foods packed with calcium. Go for fortified nut milks, leafy greens and a range of almond products to get your fix.
Vit D is super important. Without it calcium can’t be as easily absorbed. You may know vitamin D as the ‘summer vitamin’ because it is created by the body when we’re exposed to the sun (so deficiency is common in the UK where we don’t see much of it!) As food sources of vitamin D are limited (eggs, salmon and mushrooms are the main ones) you may want to use supplements in the winter, although check with a health care professional first.
This protein is really important for supporting your flexibility as it helps improve the elasticity of ligaments and tendons. Supplements are the current hype but you’re actually much better to get your collagen source from foods such as fish or bone broth (it’s not as scary as it sounds, check out the recipe below!)
Here’s our suggested meal plan to start incorporating these nutrients into your diet.
— Breakfast: Porridge (made with milk) topped with 1/2 a banana and cinnamon
— Lunch: poached eggs on rye toast with 1/2 an avocado
— Snack: a bowl of bone broth
— Dinner: salmon and sweet potato fish cakes with roasted asparagus and broccoli
Enjoy! I’ll be sharing more nutrition advice and recipes next week.