If you live an active lifestyle, you most likely spend a significant amount of time planning meals and searching for supplements. After all — you are what you eat! Paying close attention to your body's energy production, nutrition, and muscle recovery can make all the difference when it comes to physical performance, whether you're hitting the trails or racking up reps at the gym.
Luckily, there are plenty of herbal allies that can help support an active, healthy lifestyle. Just remember: every body is different. We've rounded up some general advice below, but we recommend working with a certified specialist in dietetics when assessing your specific nutritional needs.
General Nutrition: Power Up with Protein
Nutrition and athletic performance are like salt and pepper — they work better together. We all know that eating well and getting plenty of exercise are two of the best ways to get and stay healthy, but did you know good nutrition helps provide the energy for athletic performance?
The USDA's latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that consuming enough protein is important to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass that occurs due to natural aging. Monitoring consumption of protein is especially important for people with active lifestyles and vegetarian diets.
How does protein provide the power for an active lifestyle? Protein is the building block for muscular stasis and growth. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which your muscles use to fuel and regulate DNA and RNA synthesis in mucosal and immune system cells. This is why failure to consume adequate amount of protein can lead to muscle fatigue and deterioration.
The best way to get nutrients — including protein — is from your food. Protein is found in seafoods, meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, grains, cereals, and soy products, as well as minimally in fruits and vegetables. However, though it is possible to get enough protein from a balanced diet, it's not always easy! Some people may require supplements to assist in energy production, sugar metabolism, or cell membrane growth. For example, pea protein is a great plant-based supplement to help get your daily amount of protein. It comes in powder form and can be blended with frozen berries and unsweetened coconut milk for a delicious post-workout treat.
Herbal Allies for Active Lifestyles
In addition to eating right, herbal extractions can be allies in your active lifestyle. Herbs are very much like food, and many contain dense nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. For example, wood betony contains magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, which are necessary for muscle health. You'll find wood betony in WishGarden Herbs' Serious Relaxer Muscle & Tension formula.
Herbs like black cohosh root — the first ingredient in our Deep Recovery Musclar-Skeletal — that support a healthy inflammation response may also be useful for mobility and joint support.
You may be surprised to learn that sleep plays an important role in muscle recovery. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the deep sleep that occurs in cycles ranging from 90–120 minutes throughout the night. The process is necessary for supporting healthy levels of growth hormones, which are controlled by the pituitary gland. In other words, when you get a good night's rest, your brain releases a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair.
Sounds important, right? But if a spinning mind is keeping you awake, you could be missing out on those deep-sleep benefits. Herbs can come to your rescue here, too! Passionflower can help calm a worried mind and support more restful sleep. Its beautiful purple and white flowers contain constituents that scientists believe increase levels of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA lowers the activity of some brain cells, making you feel more relaxed. WishGarden's Sleepy Nights & Fresh Mornings tincture contains Passionflower aerials, along with hops strobiles (our June Herb of the Month!) and Skullcap aerials.
Lauren Ann Nichols attended The Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism and received her certificate in medical herbalism. She is the owner of Herbal Vice, a small batch skin care company, and grows the herbs used in her products. She is currently a customer service representative at WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.