Protein shakes, pre-workouts, branched-chain amino acids, creatinine, multivitamins. Supplements for the elite athlete and the average gym-goers are becoming more and more accessible. They are now readily available online, in vitamin and supplement stores and in the health section of most grocery stores. But did you also know that there are natural supplements, performance enhancers and recovery aids growing around us? From basil to arnica, aloe vera to ashwagandha, many herbs and plants have unique benefits for athletic performance and physical health.
Funded by the Edible College London Small Grant Scheme, we recently set up a sport and health-focused plant garden in the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health (ISEH; link). ISEH is an international centre of excellence focusing on elite sport, amateur sport and exercise prescription, for the improvement of the health of the general population and athletic performance. We have a unique emphasis on healthy active living; many students and staff are past or current athletes with strong interests in physical activity and health.
Within offices, classrooms and common spaces, we created a diverse garden of herbs, fruits, vegetables and other plants. We wanted to improve the knowledge of our students and staff, by demonstrating the benefits of urban food growing and the edible potential of UCL’s campus. Some of these plants can be eaten, some are better in tea or water, and some are designed to be applied topically. Each plant contains a unique profile card detailing its key vitamins and minerals, benefits and instructions of how to use, as well as some general plant care suggestions.
Come back to this blog in August 2022 to see complete profiles of all 25 plants in the sports garden and learn more about hydroponic growing!
1. Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)
12. Goji berries
13. Red strawberries
14. Rhubarb red Swiss chard
15. Sea buckthorn
16. White strawberries
17. Cayenne pepper
18. Cherry tomato
22. Sweet pepper
24. Aloe vera
25. Tillandsia (air plants)