Yoga is a fabulous form of mind-body exercise, but you need to fuel the physical part for maximum mental training. Fortunately, the mindful nature of the practice compels many yogis to refine their diets by nutritional guidelines and their principles.
However, you might need a few pointers on what you should and shouldn’t eat if you’re new to the mat. Here are five ways for yogis to nourish their bodies for more energy and balance.
1. Eat More Probiotics
Scientists discover new connections between what happens in your intestines and the rest of your body seemingly every day. Your gut flora influences everything from your immune response to your mood. Probiotics refer to foods rich in the bacteria your digestive tract needs to do its job well.
One way to nourish your body for greater energy and balance is to restore this delicate system to its ideal capacity through your diet. Foods rich in probiotics like kombucha and kefir help rebuild your cache of beneficial intestinal bacteria. One study found that people with depression had lower numbers of two specific bacterial strains than those with rosier outlooks — adding such foods might replenish your supply and boost your mood.
Yogurt is a popular probiotic-rich food. You can find vegan varieties if you eschew dairy. Sauerkraut and other fermented foods also contain beneficial bacteria.
2. Eliminate Ultra-Processed Foods
Protecting your gut health requires a twofold approach. One step includes eating more probiotic-rich foods along with prebiotics. Prebiotics refer to the non-digestible fiber on which your intestinal bacteria feed.
Most foods you eat undergo some processing, even if it’s only blending an apple with some cinnamon to make a sauce. Ultra-processed foods, though, are often unrecognizable from their natural forms. They provide a steady stream of simple sugars to your digestive system, causing peaks and valleys in your blood glucose levels that can leave you weak and dizzy — not ready to balance in dancer’s pose.
Such ultra-processed foods often undergo a chemical bleaching process that makes them even more likely to spur insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. When manufacturers bleach flour, for example, it becomes tainted with a substance called alloxan used to induce diabetes in laboratory rats.
3. Go Plant-Based
As a yogi, you may already gravitate toward plant-based foods as part of a cruelty-free lifestyle. Those conscientious choices could have more health benefits than you think, including increased energy.
Plant-based foods contain various antioxidants, substances that fight damaging free radicals in your body. Antioxidants work by providing free radicals with the missing electrons they need to avoid stealing them from your body’s cells, causing damage and death. Heavy free radical damage can lead to disease and leave you feeling fatigued and sluggish.
The more plant variety you consume, the better your chances of getting the antioxidants you need to meet your body’s demands. Make friends at your local farmer’s market or trade produce with a neighbor who shares your yen for gardening — you’ll both enjoy more organic variety while reducing your carbon footprint.
4. Think Lean Proteins
Meat production contributes to ecological disaster — plus, it’s hard for your body to digest. However, your muscles do need protein for maximum performance.
You can get all the amino acids you need on a purely vegan diet. You might need to include a healthy dose of nutritional yeast in your morning shake to get other essential nutrients such as vitamin B-12. Otherwise, you can find charts to help you mix and match the right foods.
If you only avoid meat, dairy and eggs provide lean protein sources. Your local farmer’s market is usually a lovely resource for eggs from happy hens with ample room to roam. It’s a little trickier to find humane dairy, although some local farms encourage visitors to tour the facility and observe the treatment of calves and mothers.
5. Reinvent Treats
What’s life without dessert? You can be a conscientious, energized and balanced yogi while still having your cake and eating it, too.
If you practice a vegan lifestyle, you can find plenty of substitutes for eggs and milk. Are you trying to shed extra pounds? Applesauce makes an ideal replacement for oils that slashes overall calorie count. If you mind your carbs, try replacing sugar with powdered monk fruit for all the flavor with less glycemic impact. Alternative flours such as chickpea and almond add a protein punch and other valuable nutrients white flour leaves behind.
Nourish Your Body for More Energy and Balance, Yogi
If you want more energy and balance, please nourish your body well. The five tips above should have you feeling great on and off the mat.