Off the Mat, On the Menu: Going with the Food Flow

by Frances Sheridan Goulart

Mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a sound body): That was Joseph Pilates’ gold standard standard. Who can argue with that? But it’s easier said than done.

Even mastering just one of those—the mens sana or the corpore sano—would merit three cheers when two out of three Americans (excluding we, Pilate-istas, of course) are tipping the scales these days.

The principles we’ve previously considered in this blog include balance, control, integration, imagination and intuition—both on the mat and on our menus—and how they can work to help us achieve that mens sana in corpore sano goal. But there’s more: Consider flow or fluidity. Can you move easily through your meals and menus? That is, can you flow from the soup to the salad to the dessert the way you flow in your practice? If there’s something missing, can (or should) you create a bridge with food supplements?

In a word (my word), yes. Everyone agrees that our diets need to provide a certain amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for us to flow on the mat and elsewhere. But are you meeting your needs with food alone? Probably not—even if you take the time to record your meals in a food journal. Although not everyone agrees that supplements are essential protection, I think that, if you are like most of us with a bad eating habit or two, you could do worse than supplementing meals with supplements. Just as adding a Magic Circle or Theraband to your workout can make you physically stronger, a little help from that tablet or capsule may make you nutritionally better protected.

Supplements are a good elective for another reason. Some nutrients go out the window even if you are meeting your RDA if you also take OTC or prescribed drugs, drink alcohol or slurp too much caffeine. Oral contraceptives, for example, deplete a number of nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and folic acid, while antacids delete calcium and thyroid medications interfere with iron absorption. Remember, the right balance of vitamins and minerals is essential for digestion, absorption, the metabolism and transport of nutrients throughout your body. Toxins in the water, air and soil (and they number in the thousands) also deplete various levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need to look good, feel good and flow. Just taking a single aspirin, for example, can interfere with your uptake of iron, potassium and vitamins B5 and C.

So what’s the take-away about supplementing?
At a minimum, you need at a good multivitamin (preferably one formulated for your sex and age that carries the United States Pharmacopeia crest). Additional ascorbic acid (vitamin C), preferably in the optimally absorbed Ester-C form, is also needed to help keep your immune system strong. One or two grams daily taken in spaced doses couldn’t hurt (and if you don’t need it, it’s water soluble and will simply be voided). A bone support supplement that contains calcium, vitamin D and perhaps bone health compounds such as boron and silica and vitamin K is a must for women, too. Wash it all down with a cup of green tea and you’re good to flow!

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