Phytochemicals in Physical Exercise

Tempo de Leitura: 2 minutos

Exercise physiologically induces the increase of reactive oxygen species (ERO’s), which is part of the adaptive response and is not harmful. However, unhealthy habits such as sleep deprivation, smoking, low consumption of antioxidants or very intense physical activities, which generate ERO’s in greater amounts than the body can neutralize, can culminate in disorders in the body. For this, it is necessary nutritional strategies that increase the supply of minerals that will act as cofactors of antioxidant enzymes and vitamins such as chelations, in short, phytochemicals act by increasing the endogenous synthesis of antioxidants.

Mechanism of action

When subjected to stressful situations, plants produce phytochemicals through their response mechanism, these are classified as secondary metabolites. Thus, these phytochemicals are available in the plant and to man when its consumption occurs. It is important to note that organic foods have higher levels of phytochemicals.

However, homeopathic doses are sufficient to obtain the expected “response dose”. That is, they work well in small amounts and can regulate gene expression by activating protein kinases that increase enzymes involved in glutathione synthesis.


Beetroot is a food that carries the combination of nitrates and betalains. Such extracts are responsible for the ergogenic effect of beetroot that can increase the pain limit and decrease C-Reactive Protein levels. As well as, increased nitric oxide can be beneficial in chronic non-communicable diseases, hypertension and inflammation.

In addition, this strategy can be used when vasodilation, angiogenesis, mitochondrial biogenesis, efficiency in glucose uptake and reduction of muscle fatigue, in addition to phosphocreatine resynthesis, is necessary.


It constitutes a minority fraction of turmeric, about 2%. In addition, it has properties with the power to decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines, besides helping to reduce the subjective perception of pain for athletes, also reducing muscle damage and increasing performance. However, the solubility of curcumin is very low, and it is necessary to choose a medium that makes it more bioavailable, also noting chronic supplementation.

Clinical practice

The dose-response ratio of beet juice in order to reduce muscle fatigue was defined as about 140 mL, 2 h before training to obtain ergogenic effect, without using oral antiseptic, as this may decrease bacteria present in saliva that are responsible for reducing nitrate to nitrite. When it comes to curcumin, the ideal dose is 400mg/day and to increase its bioavailability it is the strategy of putting it in boiling water for ten minutes.

Bibliographic references

Reading Suggestion:
Phytochemicals in Circadian Cycle Modulation

Watch nutritionist Daniela Seixas’ video on science play –
The Role of Phytochemicals in Adaptive Response, Performance and Muscle Recovery

Article: Phytochemicals and Exercise: Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, Carlson L, Sayers SP. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006 Aug;40(8):679-83; discussion 683. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2005.025429. Epub 2006 Jun 21. PMID: 16790484; PMCID: PMC2579450.

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