Perseverance.  Focus.  Endurance.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, (2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)
        Hebrews 12:1-2
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Blog Archives - 2012
The Smurf Fruit

  Blueberries are just blueberries, right? Wrong. This bright blue fruit is a whole lot more than a topping for your oatmeal. As runners (and avid nutrition/fitness 'freaks') we try to incorporate a variety of healthy, wholesome foods into our diets. Fruits and veggies are without a doubt a diet staple for any runner (at least they should be) and provide tons of nutrients without any of the added junk that's stuffed into processed food. I've heard way too many people tell me to stop eating fruit because of its sugar content.....No, I'm not kidding. I couldn't believe that people actually avoid fruit because of that. Yes, I understand how certain health conditions would make you want to limit fruit (type 1 diabetes--my sister has it), but cut it out completely? That's just pathetic. Let's get one thing straight: Yeah, fruit has sugar, we call that fructose. Keep in mind that this is NATURAL sugar. But fruit offers SO much more than just natural sugar--like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that we can't easily access with other foods. Fruit also contains a lot of water, so you feel more full with less. And even with the sugar content, you get a whole lot less calories per serving than you would with, say, a muffin. Win-win situation? I'd say so.

Alright, so now that I've lectured you on fruit in general, I'm gonna re-zoom in on blueberries. You've probably had them in a fruit salad, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, or yogurt without even contemplating how much your body benefits from these wonderful little spheres of goodness. Blueberries are actually the 2nd most popular berry in the U.S., just a step behind strawberries. I'm not sure on it's global status, but I heard Vladimir Putin is a fan....so that counts, right? Anyways, I've recently become obsessed with blueberries, and here's why: (please, bear with me)

 They're freaking LOADED with antioxidants. Seriously, these babies are packed. If you're not completely in-the-know on what antioxidants do for your body, let me break it down for you. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from free radicals that may damage cellular structures and DNA. Free radicals also form unstable molecules that are linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other age-related
diseases like Alzheimer's. When I say age related, I don't mean that it's just the 50 years of age and up group that needs antioxidants, it's everyone. When you start early, your body builds up its defenses and makes aging a little more graceful, protecting your body from the detrimental effects being old can come with. Antioxidants are super important for runners (duh) because they help to protect our cells from those reactive oxygen species, defending our muscles and ligaments from the stress that comes with higher-intensity. There are substances in blueberries called polyphenols  which are really just antioxidants in themselves  specifically anthocyanins that give the fruit their deep blue color. So basically, any of those brightly colored fruits or vegetables you see are likely to be bursting with antioxidants. Among these are beets, carrots, tomatoes, raspberries, and blackberries, to name a few. I bet Smurfs are just riddled with antioxidants....if you ate one you'd probably become immortal or something.

They've got TONS of vitamin C. Even more than that orange juice you're chugging every morning. (By the way, that orange juice has about 8 times more sugar than your scrumptious cup of berries would have. My opinion? Skip the fruit juice....there will definitely be a later post on that) Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, which your body needs to form collagen (natural proteins) in your bones, muscle tissue, blood vessels, and cartilage. This also helps your body absorb iron  crucial for runners, especially female runners. Vitamin C aids in strengthening your immune system as well. As a runner, there is nothing worse than being sick and unable to run. Unless you're injured, 'cause that sucks even more. Your immune system is working 24/7 to keep your body functioning properly and defending it from any of the bad stuff that could find it's way in. If you work out hardcore every single day you're apt to have a weak immune system, no matter how jacked you are. That's why rest days are important, but it certainly doesn't hurt to take that vitamin C supplement and munch on some blueberries on a regular basis!

They keep you going! Literally. They help you go. Like, poop. Blueberries are like little storehouses of dietary fiber, helping with regularity and general gut health. This fiber also aids in heart health and keeps your cholesterol levels in check. Did you know that roughly a handful of blueberries meets the daily requirement for fiber? That makes it so easy  you won't even have to put up with scarfing down those wretched Fiber-One bars anymore. 

Blueberries are also a fantastic source of manganese, which is an element found in many minerals that plays a key role in bone development and converting PFCs (protein, carbs, fat) into energy. Think about how much stress your bones have to take while you're running....it's amazing that we're able to go such long distances without our skeletal system giving way from all that force. We need to remember to take care of our bones; something we take advantage of all too often.

They taste great. I could use a random word like "ambrosial" to describe the taste but that would really just ruin the effect. They're kinda tangy, kinda sweet, totally amazing. Period. I usually eat a handful of these guys after my runs; they get my glycogen levels back up and help jump-start the muscle-repairing process. Bottom line? Blueberries are a fantabulous food for runners. Eat them. And no, the little blue dots in that packaged 'blueberry' muffin does not count. I don't even know what those are...but they're not blueberries. Beware.

Happy Trails!

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