By: Ryan Dennis, CNP - Holistic Sports Nutritionist
Last week, we looked at vitamins and the important roles that they play in the body, and likened them to rustproofing a car. This week, we'll take a look at minerals!
Looking back to the car comparison, there is one simple way to think of minerals: as the spark plugs. No car will move very quickly (or at all, for that matter) without a spark to ignite the fuel, which sends the whole engine spinning into motion. Minerals can act in a similar way in your body.
Minerals allow our muscles to fire. They allow our muscles to relax. They help to complete the actions requested by our brains. Without them, sport would be a pretty boring event! Of course, that's not all they do. You've probably heard of calcium, for instance, which is important for healthy bones as well as for muscle contraction. Also important is potassium, again linked to bone health, and also to muscle movement. There are dozens of minerals and micro-minerals, all essential to our performance.
You may be asking yourself: with so many minerals, how am I supposed to keep track? Well, the simplest way is – surprise – to eat a diet rich in a variety of whole, healthy foods. You'll never need to worry about any one in particular, so long as you cover your bases by doing something we all enjoy: eating. Fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods in general are great sources. When in doubt, Canada's food guide is designed to help you establish healthy eating habits, so use it as the tool it is!
Well, that about wraps up Nutrition 101. What did we learn? The human body, like a car, is made up of many components all working together seamlessly. We had protein, which we compared to the car’s body. We had carbohydrates, which we compared to fuel. We had fats, which were much like an interior and safety system. We had vitamins, the bodies' rustproofing. And, of course, we had minerals, the spark that starts it all.
I hope that you've found these segments helpful and informative. Perhaps they’ve opened your eyes to a deeper understanding of what food means to you, why it's important to your life – both on the ice and off – and why it's worth making time for!
Remember, food is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Without good food, your body will – sooner or later – let you down. So take control today, and give yourself the best chance for success. It's one decision you'll never regret!