Recipes. Nutritional Advice.
Anyone who is routinely active, understands the importance of repairing the body. Over time, the routine wear and tear of training builds up making our bodies more susceptible to overuse or inflammatory injuries. Whilst many athletes are quick to think ‘externally’ – ice, tape, compression, massage, physiotherapy – nutrition is often overlooked as a key ingredient to recovery.
In conversation with the COMO Group’s nutritional consultant Eve Persak, we discuss how we can tailor our diet to reduce inflammation, heal dermatological wounds, restore connective tissue and bone, and nourish musculature. Below she shares three key focus areas to promote recovery and exclusive COMO Shambhala recipes that incorporate these concepts.
THE Repair DIET PRINCIPLES
The key principals of a diet that supports repair include; foods rich in anti-inflammatories and protein and a focus on gut health and digestive rest.
When it comes to injury recovery, people often hone in on the site of the trauma or discomfort. However, it’s important not to overlook the digestive tract. Interestingly, one of the most common complaints injured athletes are digestive. Exercise is quite helpful for regularity so, when athletes stop moving, very often their bowels follow suit. In order to keep the GI tract on track and regulate digestion, a fiber rich diet – including fresh and dried fruit, raw and cooked vegetables, nuts and seeds – and adequate hydration are key.
Repairing and rebuilding are energetically expensive so, clinicians encourage individuals to rest their whole bodies – minimize physical activity and sleep adequately. Along these same lines, digestive rest is important, as well. Consuming foods that are easier to digest ensures that the body gets the nutrients it desperately needs with the least amount of effort. This gives the GI tract a modest respite and allows the body to reallocate its resources elsewhere. To this end, soft-textured or warm bowl foods are perfect, especially later in the day when the system is less energized. Raw soups are a great way to get in all of the antioxidants and enzymes of a fresh salad in a less crunchy (and therefore more easily digested) form. And at dinnertime, a broth-based cooked protein dish sits light of the stomach to nourish without disrupting sleep.
Inflammation & Stress
When any kind of trauma occurs to the body, the immune system generates an inflammatory response. Likewise, stress – whether emotional, physiological, or psychological – contributes to these same internal inflammatory biochemical pathways. The initial inflammation can be quite helpful, as it’s a natural component of the first stages of healing. However, prolonged and unchecked inflammation can work against the body and extend the time required for recovery. Using food choices to keep these processes in check is invaluable for injury recovery.
Minimizing or eliminating foods that complicate glycemic control – like refined grains and added sweeteners – is crucial, as insulin (the hormone called into action when blood sugars rise) is understood to promote inflammatory reactions. Other foods with anti-inflammatory properties also help. Omega 3 fatty acids – like the EPA and DHA found in the dinner fish recipe and ALA found in the morning muesli below – are perfect examples. Likewise, certain herbs and spices – like fresh turmeric and chili – are understood to counteract heat and relief pain.
Open wounds, fractures, bruises, tears, pulls or even chronic overuse strains; all these conditions can involve damage on a tissue (dermatological, connective, muscular, facial), structural (organs or bone) or even cellular level. To repair and rebuild, certain dietary components are must-have’s.
Antioxidants are the compounds shown to swoop in when such troubles arise – should be in consumed generously throughout the injury recovery period. These include; artichokes, goji berries, pecans and cranberries.
Vitamins & Minerals
Zinc (found in nuts and seeds) and Vitamin C (in peppers, leafy greens, citrus, tomato) are particularly helpful in regenerating collagen and supporting overall immune function. Likewise, The bioactive phytochemical plant pigments in all brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables help to counteract oxidative stress and restore cell health.
When it comes to tissue regeneration and immunity – of all the macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, or fats) – protein is often considered priority number one. To ensure an adequate supply and a comprehensive array of amino acids, meals should provide complementary plant-based proteins – like whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), nuts and seeds. Animal protein sources provide all essential amino acids, but can often be more difficult to digest so delicate-textured, slow-cooked dishes (like the cold-water fish in a bone broth) can facilitate breakdown and absorption.
COMO Hotels and Resorts are committed to advocating a holistic approach to wellness. From Bhutan to Miami. Their properties draw inspiration from their compelling locations and evolve organically from their cultural surroundings. Cuisine remains a fundamental element of the COMO experience and working with the best experts in the field, they provide clients with tailored programs and menus that support the body from the outside in. Their cookbook, developed by COMO’s Group Executive Chef over a 10-year period, is now available from Amazon. Alternatively, it is available in Singapore at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, Culina and SuperNature.