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Essential Nutrients Athletes Need to Lessen Injury

Eating is part of preventing injury. What you eat over time and out of habit is what builds your body. Proper nutrition is a natural part of preventive strategies for injuries. If you want a stronger nutritional foundation, you have to build up from solid, nutrient-dense food. If you want your body to withstand rigorous training programs or be able to play for long periods, then you have to eat right.

If you do get injured, the length of your recovery depends on your body’s nutritional state, whether or not your body is prepared to handle stress or strains. You can apply muscle tapes for extra support or prevention. However, muscle damage that occurs during rigid training or while playing is usually repaired in about two to three hours after, given that you eat during that time.

The most critical nutrient to consume for muscle repair is, without a doubt, protein. Pairing it up with carbohydrates is even better because it stimulates muscle-protein synthesis. It helps minimize the loss of muscle mass or strength.

But it’s not just protein. There are several nutrient-dense foods that you need to consume to lessen injury and help with faster recovery. Here’s a couple of food choices you need to know to reduce or prevent injury.

Healthy fats in nutrition

Help Your Bones with the Right Nutrients

Bones are prone to injuries, and these usually happen when you least expect them. Say, you’ve been working hard for months for a big game, then all of a sudden, something pops while you’re in the kitchen, fixing yourself a snack.

It happens to the best of athletes. You don’t get injured in the field, but you get injured at home. It’s game over, and you end up on the couch instead.

To get your bone strength back, consume magnesium-rich food. Brown rice, almonds, lentils, and milk (no surprise there) should be part of your daily intake while recovering. Silicon also takes part in bone formation, so make sure you include cereals and green beans in your recovery diet. Fruits like lemons and grapefruit are rich in inositol, which facilitates calcium absorption in bones.

When calcium is absorbed, vitamins K1 and K2 direct the mineral to your bones and boost their strength. Make sure to include leafy greens, brussels sprout, and dairy products from grass-fed cows in your diet.

Another essential nutrient that helps treat a bone injury is arginine, an amino acid that creates nitric oxide to heal fractures. Arginine is present in meat, poultry, nuts, and dairy.

Even before you sustain an injury, taking in the nutrient-dense food mentioned above as often as possible is just the building block you need for stronger bones.

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Healing often comes with inflammation. It’s the body’s natural response to wounds or other types of injuries. It’s the way the body fights and achieves proper healing.

But when the inflammation becomes too much, it can also slow down recovery. For prolonged inflammation, you need to eat enough fats.

The omega-3 fatty acids from fish have anti-inflammatory properties. They function as a defense mechanism against bumps, bruises, wounds, or any type of injury. You can also calm inflammation from monosaturated fats like olive and flaxseed oil.

When the injured part of the body is immobilized, fatty acids can reduce the amount of time you need to recover by reducing the size of the inflammation.

ofitrus fruits on a wooden table

Keep Collagen Supply Steady with Vitamin C

Collagen also reduces inflammation and is essential in rebuilding damaged tissues. You can help your body produce enough collagen by taking in food rich in vitamin C. Collagen is an all-around gluing agent for your bones, muscles, tendons, and skin tissues. It keeps them all together and maintains their unity.

Citrus fruits, berries, and leafy dark greens are vitamin-C-infused foods you need to include in your daily consumption to keep the collagen in line. They also help in preventing muscle pain and can reduce soreness. These nutrient-dense fruits and foods provide restorative properties and create the right environment necessary for your body to recover and endure high-risk performances in the future.

Promote Healing with Zinc

Zinc is essential to promote tissue and wound healing. Not including the mineral in your diet can slow down wound healing and your recovery. Zinc also plays an important role in strengthening your immune system, helping fight infections.

Not getting enough zinc is detrimental to a person’s development and growth, but too much of the mineral can also cause copper deficiency. That said, health professionals strongly advise against taking zinc supplements without a doctor’s prescription.

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough zinc is to include red meat, poultry, fortified cereals, whole grains, beans, and nuts in your diet.

bread with seeds of sesame

Focus on Fiber-Rich Food to Limit Weight Gain

Doctors usually advise injured patients to rest and limit physical activity to avoid aggravating their injury. You can’t exercise, but you need to eat more nutrient-rich foods, which leads to one thing weight gain.

For many athletes, gaining extra pounds can be detrimental to their careers. Certain sports, like boxing, mixed martial arts, and wrestling, use weight classes to classify match competitors. The additional pounds can disqualify them from participating in their weight class. Losing the extra weight will also take time and work, which they could have used for training.

During the recovery, eating fiber-rich foods helps prevent weight gain. High-fiber fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can quickly fill up your stomach without adding a lot of calories. Best of all, fiber-rich foods also contain a wealth of essential nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc.

It’s necessary to control your calorie intake during recovery to avoid unwanted body fat, but too much restriction will slow down your healing and cause muscle loss.

The Takeaway

Many factors influence the recovery of injuries, many of which are beyond your control. However, you can control the nutrients you supply your body to aid in the healing process. Fortify your diet with the essential nutrients mentioned above to speed up your recovery and improve your overall health.

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