Did you know that nutrition and the foods you eat play an integral role in preventing sports injuries? Athletes need the proper carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, to (1) stay healthy, (2) protect bones, tendons, and ligaments, and (3) promote healing between workouts. In addition, athletes who don’t eat enough before games and practices will often get fatigued and that’s when the majority of injuries happen. Below is a highlight of critical key nutrients to focus on in your athlete’s diet:
Research has shown eating carbohydrates before, during, and after long periods of exercise reduces fatigue, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), muscle breakdown, stress hormones, and risk of injury. Choose fruits, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas, and whole grains often.
Choose healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil to reduce risk of stress fractures and limit inflammatory responses which may increase the severity of injuries. As much as possible, limit saturated fats (high fat red meats and deli meats like salami) and avoid trans fats found in many processed desserts, chips, and snack items.
Dietary iron and iron storage may impact risk of injury according to research. Choose iron-rich foods like beans and legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, iron-fortified cereals and breads, and lean red meats and poultry. To increase iron absorption, always pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C (think oranges, tomatoes, or potatoes).
Calcium and vitamin D:
Both calcium and vitamin D are critical for bone health which is very important in young athletes. Research supports athletes are more likely to get injured when they are not getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Choose milk, seeds, almonds, fish, beans, and leafy greens to increase these critical nutrients in your diet