Nutrition for Athletes

I recently attended a conference in Chicago where I got more insights into Olympic nutrition. Much of it is how nutrition controls inflammation and oxidation. Here are 4 practical take home messages for the athlete in all of us.

• Athletes send up to 100 times more oxygen to select muscles while exercising, than when at rest. More oxygen means more damage from oxidation. Vegetables, berries, herbs and spices are nature’s primary antioxidants. Eat them.

• If you sweat, add a pinch of sea-salt to your water. This helps water get where it needs to go to reduce inflammation and oxidation.

• Anyone age 10 or older living above 35 degrees North, roughly San Francisco, Virginia and Spain, should take 1,000 IU vitamin D3 a day September thru March. Vitamin D tells infection-fighting cells to stop. Vitamin D is the key reason arthritis gets worse in winter. Vitamin D is also needed for building Olympic muscle.

• Essential fats decrease inflammation just like aspirin. The body needs anti-inflammatories 24/7. Therefore, unless you are an aspirin junky, protect your cartilage with daily fish oil supplements.

Please visit the “Athletes” Health Section above for more information about Nutrition for Athletes.

Best wishes for good health,

Ingrid Kohlstadt, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.N.