Did you know that sports injuries are most often a sign of a nutritional imbalance?
Knee pain, tweaked backs, and pulled muscles–oh my! Many athletes think that injuries are simply part of the training process, but the truth is, your nutrition has a lot to do with how your bones and muscles are nourished.
Instead of chalking injuries up to “just another part of training”, it’s time for you to take control of your health and embrace a more balanced approach to nutrition. Quality, whole foods help establish a strong defence against muscle strains and tears. Also, properly nourished athletes recover faster if they have a healthy, balanced diet and do get injured.
Remember that every athlete is unique, and your nutritional needs may differ from the athletes you train with. Here are some tips for consuming the proper micronutrients for injury prevention and healing.
Vitamin C: This vitamin helps maintain the collagen that is needed for holding bone together. It also provides strength and flexibility for ligaments and tendons. It is best to feast on vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and strawberries. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lemon to your water.
Healthy Fats: Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid that protects your body against chronic inflammation. Omega-3s help to ensure that your athletic joints and tissues are nourished and that your immune system is healthy and happy. Many athletes are deficient in omega-3s and should consume oily fish, seeds, and raw walnuts to increase omega-3 intake.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D: Your bones are happy when all three of these nutrients are present and working together! Calcium often gets a lot of attention for its role in bone health, but magnesium and vitamin D are equally as important. Calcium is definitely required for strong bones and the prevention of stress fractures, but the body doesn’t absorb calcium well and requires magnesium and vitamin D for proper absorption. A diet rich in green leafy vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, cold-water fish, and whole grains can help you meet your calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D needs. Also, don’t forget to enjoy some sunshine!
Zinc: This mineral is extremely important for healing tissues and wounds if you do get injured. Zinc is also a key player in your immune system. Whole food sources of zinc include red meat, lentils, turkey, and brown rice.
How much water have you consumed today? Pure, clean water (as opposed to coconut water and sports drinks) is a huge factor in injury prevention. A dehydrated joint or tissue is more susceptible to tears and injury. It also puts additional stress on the body and can cause imbalance.
Use these guidelines to enhance your diet so you can stay injury free and healthy. Feasting on quality, whole foods and being mindful of injury prevention will do wonders for you as a holistic athlete.