Fuel Your Summer Activities the Natural Way

In just a few days, an exciting notification will pop up on my home screen, officially declaring that we can wave goodbye to a long winter and celebrate the fact that our friend, Summer Solstice, has made its grand entrance. In other words, the countdown that I have programmed into my phone for another start to a Sheboygan summer is in its home stretch.

However, many Sheboyganites, including myself, use outside temperatures finally tipping above freezing as a chance to tune up the bike and take it for a spin on the Old Plank Trail, zip up the wetsuit and hit the Lake Michigan waves on the surfboard, or dress in layers and grit out a run.

The more comfortable weather that accompanies summer days in Sheboygan makes these outdoor activities, and others, even more enjoyable.

Now that summer is just about here and the itch to be active outside is felt by many of us, filling our bodies with good fuel is important.

Recently, a study at the North Carolina Research Campus of Appalachian State University found that when cyclists were given water, and either a popular sports drink or a banana, as fuel during a long bike ride, their bodies benefitted the most when bananas were involved.

How did researchers figure this out? By taking samples of the cyclists' blood at different times during their rides and testing for inflammation markers.

When they did this, they saw that the cyclists that ate bananas, instead of the sports drink, had the least markers of inflammation in their blood. Sugar,

which is found in slightly different forms in both the sports drink and banana in this study, helps keep us going during long activities and recover better. But, sports drinks have added flavorings and chemicals that a good-old banana does not.

A banana also seems to offer positive effects on the body that cause us to have even less inflammation than a manmade sports drink.

Not to mention, bananas are neatly packaged by Mother Earth, easy to open for easy access to our bellies, safe for the environment to toss outside when we are done and cheap to buy.

As someone who puts in many running miles during the summer months and follows a natural, raw diet to stay healed from a health condition, I find fueling our bodies with foods as close to what the earth gifted us as a chance to be and feel our best.

When you are about to head out for your next outdoor Sheboygan activity this summer, don't forget to choose the best fuel for you and your body when you scan your cupboards and fridge.

On top of filling up your water bottle, try focusing on these four things:

❚ Low fat

❚ Moderate in carbs and protein

❚ Low fiber

❚ Made up of familiar foods that you tolerate well

Lauren Smith is the communications and development coordinator for the Sheboygan County Food Bank.