By Dana MacCorquodale

The world is trending towards a more natural approach. Be it in non-surgical medical aesthetics, health and physical fitness, or skin care. People are looking for a better way. Gone are the days when we were content to put anything and everything in and on our bodies.

The following supplements are backed by evidence that they will enhance aerobic conditioning, decrease recovery time and help with common inflammatory conditions like arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Turmeric is what gives curry its’ brilliant yellow hue. It’s not only tasty; it is a very powerful anti-oxidant. The main active ingredient is curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory. It’s the equivalent of taking 800mg of Motrin or ibuprofen. Taken on a daily basis with black pepper extract, it can alleviate symptoms of arthritis, protect the heart, improve brain function and help lower the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Tart cherry extract is another powerhouse supplement. Taken before and after intense endurance exercise, it can prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), something that has plagued triathletes and marathon runners for years. It also decreases recovery time. Studies show that it also improves muscle strength. These amazing berries contain trace amounts of melatonin and may help regulate sleep patterns. Tart cherry is also an effective treatment for gout and arthritis. This berry also promotes brain health and may protect against diseases that ravage the brain. You can get tart cherry from juice or powdered extract in the form of capsules.

Anyone who has watched the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona Hawaii has heard of the legendary energy lab; a road in the latter half of the run that takes you seemingly to nowhere. You then turn around heading back to the finish line at the quiet seaside town of Kailua-Kona. Nutrex Hawaii lies at the end of this fabled road to nowhere. It’s where they harvest the super antioxidant astaxanthin. This amazing compound is created when pools of micro algae are irritated, causing them to protect themselves with astaxanthin. This protects them from the harmful rays of the sun and creates this super powered anti-oxidant. It is 800x stronger that CoQ10 and 6000x stronger than Vitamin C. The many benefits are supporting skin health from the damaging effects of the sun, decreasing oxidative stress on the heart and blood vessels, as well as supporting joint and tendon health and decreases recovery time after intense endurance exercise. It is available in gel caps from Nutrex Hawaii (my preferred brand).

Bromelian is an enzyme that comes from pineapple and is a natural protease enzyme that helps digest inflamed and scar tissue. It might also assist the body in producing substances that fight pain and swelling, preventing muscle damage from exercise. Researchers are also finding that Bromelain significantly enhances muscle performance. Taken in conjunction with ginger, it is a great natural anti-inflammatory.

Ginger is a true “superfood” containing many amazing attributes including acting as an anti-inflammatory, infection-fighter, improving brain function, lowering blood sugars and assisting with GI stress and nausea. Ultra runners often carry candied ginger to help stave off nausea during very long runs and to help buffer the inflammation caused by running extreme distances.

These are just a few of the amazing options out there for natural ways to boost performance. Give them a try; you might just get that PR that’s always out of reach!

Dana MacCorquodale is Executive Clinical Director, Health & Lifestyle Specialist at Hawaii Blue Medical Aesthetics in Virginia Beach. She is also a top 10% Ironman Finisher, marathon open water swimmer & ultra runner.