When my kids were little I used to tell them that they had to eat healthy so they could be strong like Popeye. Of course, being children in this century (and showing my rapidly increasing age) they had no idea who Popeye might be, only that he has a ridiculous name. (Little did they know that the rest of the cast includes the names Olive Oil, Brutus, and Pluto.) Unimpressed by my pop culture reference, they still would not eat their spinach, and so I resorted to sneakily hiding the leafy green in their morning protein shakes.
These days, my oldest son is now heavily into martial arts, with at least one class of sparring each week. As his Sensei often says, if you want to get better, keep practicing. After all, the goals you set are goals you get, and all that jazz.
But here is another tip for my son and anyone else who like activities that require quick reflexes, such as martial arts, kickboxing, tennis, and even video games or race car driving. Follow Popeye’s advice and eat more spinach. While you are at it, eat more eggs, too.
No, really, it is true. If you want to have that extra edge, a spinach and egg omelet could potentially be your secret weapon to success. Activities that require using quick reflexes may also require many hours spent in training to develop those skills. Some people inherently have faster reflexes than others, though reflex time can be improved with practice. You can spar and race and even improve your own reflexes by mastering your opponent’s moves. Yet you can also get a reflex boost from an amino acid called tyrosine, which can be found in (you guessed it) both spinach and eggs.
Tyrosine has long been known as a brain booster, and researchers recently determined that tyrosine can increase our ability to quickly react to and stop an activity from occurring. The presence of tyrosine can help with mental quickness and response time, which can help in many ways from athletic activities to academic performance, to reacting in dangerous situations.
Other foods that are known to contain tyrosine include: seaweed, soy protein isolate (which I am personally not a fan of giving to children), fish such as salmon, turkey, and other game meats.
Our response time can slow down with age, so eating foods with tyrosine might be helpful for maintaining both basic reaction time and a competitive edge. Experts also say that you can help your aging reflexes by staying physically active.
Now, I can prove to my son that Popeye was onto something. He really was strong to the finish cause he ate his spinach. When the doctor tapped on Popeye’s leg with that silly triangular rubber mallet, his foot probably shot right through the ceiling. So there, kid. Enjoy your spinach.
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Photo credit: EatSleepBe.com.