From amateur to pro-biotic in one bite
The differences that exist between pro athletes and the rest of us involve a few things beyond training and equipment. Being able to train and compete is taken to another level by having an optimized gut.
If you want to enhance performance, feel better and improve your recovery, consider sinking your teeth into these vegan soft tacos, full of micronutrients and a healthy dose of probiotics!
Time for a gut check
Did you know there is a community of bacteria that lives within you, in fact, you are more bacteria than you are; there are 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells! By choosing to add probiotics-rich foods such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi and Miso, you’re building beneficial bacteria that help break down carbohydrates, protein and fiber; neutralizing toxins and harnessing more energy and nutrients from your food.
It’s common for athletes to reach a performance plateau, either from intense back-to-back training sessions or late-season fatigue. This plateau happens when your performance just doesn’t improve, no matter how hard you try. One method for extending your ability to push-on is ensuring a healthy gut—this is because a healthy gut will help you assimilate all the healthy nutrients in the foods you eat, so you’ll have increased ability to repair faster and train harder.
An athlete’s gut health is critical
Athletes often underestimate the importance of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. As we exercise, blood and oxygen are being transported around our bodies to our heart and muscles and away from our gut. This process causes the gut to become slightly more vulnerable and sensitive to toxins. It’s extremely common for athletes to have GI issues, often due to overlooking their gut health.
Too much emphasis is placed on athlete’s replacing as many calories as possible with simple carbohydrates, typically by downing gels and sugary drinks. We’re told this will help you spare your glycogen stores and maintain a higher intensity for longer, however, this approach is attacking the problem from the wrong angle, and it’s overwhelming our digestive system when in a vulnerable state—When we eat refined sugar, the undesirable bacteria thrive and start to grow out of control, while our beneficial bacteria dwindle.
Fibre is critical for a healthy gut, and new research has found that some fibre is readily fermented by bacteria in your colon. Fermentable fibre foods such as yams, dandelion greens, leeks, chicory root, garlic, onion and bananas are fermented by bacteria and transformed into short-chain fatty acids. These acids then enter the bloodstream and influence the development of immune cells in the bone marrow. Fermentable foods are a great source of prebiotics that can come naturally from your diet instead of a supplement.
Yam – Yams are great source of fermentable fibre and have healthy skin promoting and bone strengthening vitamin A, which also works to heighten night vision. Yams are also a good source of infection-fighting, wound-healing and anti-aging vitamin C.
Sauerkraut – This healthy fermented cabbage contains an incredible amount of probiotics that’ll boost your immune system, digestion and overall well-being. It’s also full of bone-forming vitamin K, free radical fighting and immunity enhancing vitamin C.
Tofu – Tofu is made from soybeans and is rich in blood-boosting iron, bone-building calcium and muscle-repairing protein. Some studies show it can lower cholesterol and may even help prevent certain types of cancer, including breast and prostate.
Avocado – Full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation reducing antioxidants, and blood pressure reducing potassium (30% more than a banana!).
Cilantro – Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K; provide about 258% of daily recommended intake. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building. —recovery faster from injuries!
Cinnamon – Cinnamon is known to promote heart health and eyesight through beneficial antioxidants, it’s been found to kill E. coli and many other bacteria, and its anti-inflammatory compounds help relieve pain and stiffness of muscles and joints due to arthritis —or a day of siiiick riding!
Pea Shoots – Peas are commonly being used as a base protein concentrate for many vegan protein powders and they contain between 20-25% protein (Move over popeye, I’m comin up). Pea shoots are also rich in protease inhibitors, these little dudes stop bacteria, viruses and fungi in their tracks. They also prevent certain viruses that promote cancer and are useful in reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) in the blood.
Dandelion greens – Dandelion greens are rich in a prebiotic fiber called inulin, free radical fighting vitamins A and C, blood cell promoting iron and muscle-cramp combating potassium.
Pink Himalayan Salt – Containing at least 84 naturally occurring trace elements in their natural mineral form, the benefits of natural Himalayan Crystal Salt range from Regulating the water content throughout your body and promoting healthy pH balance in your cells to preventing muscle cramping and aiding in proper metabolism functioning.
Pumpkin Seeds – Full of anemia-fighting iron, immunity-boosting zinc, recovery-accelerating magnesium and mood-boosting tryptophan.
Arugula – Vision boosting carotenoids, muscle tissue boosting chlorophyll and endurance enhancing nitrates.
Coconut Oil – Loaded with natural pH feeding electrolytes, immunity and energy enhancing lauric acid and fat burning MCTs.
Prepare rub: Combine paprika, cumin, sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon. Split into two portions. Prepare yam: Dice yam into cubes and coat with half the spice rub. Lightly coat cast iron pan with coconut oil and toss in the yam. Bake at 350°F for approx 35min. Done when soft in the middle and slightly crunchy. Prepare tofu: Dice yam into cubes and coat with remaining spice rub. Toss the tofu into the pan with the yam when it has approx 10min to go. Prepare pumpkin seed drizzle: Combine lime juice, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, arugula, sea salt in a Vitamix or food processor. Prepare guacamole: Combine avocado, lemon juice, finely chopped cilantro, finely chopped spinach, sea salt. Plate: Place yam, tofu, dandelion greens, pea shoots and cabbage in tortillas and top with sauerkraut, pumpkin drizzle, guacamole and a squeeze of lime.
Superlicious Vegan Tacos with Pink Sauerkraut
Prepare rub: Combine paprika, cumin, sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon. Split into two portions.
Prepare yam: Dice yam into cubes and coat with half the spice rub. Lightly coat cast iron pan with coconut oil and toss in the yam. Bake at 350°F for approx 35min. Done when soft in the middle and slightly crunchy.
Prepare tofu: Dice yam into cubes and coat with remaining spice rub. Toss the tofu into the pan with the yam when it has approx 10min to go.
Prepare pumpkin seed drizzle: Combine lime juice, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, arugula, sea salt in a Vitamix or food processor.
Prepare guacamole: Combine avocado, lemon juice, finely chopped cilantro, finely chopped spinach, sea salt.
Plate: Place yam, tofu, dandelion greens, pea shoots and cabbage in tortillas and top with sauerkraut, pumpkin drizzle, guacamole and a squeeze of lime.