Introducing Ally, North West Physio’s accredited dietician!
In this article, she explains how diet can profoundly impact bone injuries in athletes and enlightens us about the significance of consuming foods to enhance bone health.
She emphasises the importance of collaborating with a physiotherapist and following a personalised diet plan designed for athletes seeking to maximise their bone strength to prevent injuries.
Say goodbye to sidelined seasons and hello to peak performance with Ally’s nutrition advice.
Q&A with Ally our North West Physio dietician
Q: Can an insufficient diet cause stress injuries/fractures in athletes?
A: Yes. Low-calorie diets (which lead to low energy availability) and a diet low in protein and micronutrients are correlated with an increased risk of bone injuries, such as stress fractures.
Q: What are the best diets to prevent stress injuries/fractures in athletes?
A: Prevention of injuries is all about your energy Intake. To avoid stress fractures and other bone injuries, it is essential to maintain a proper balance between energy intake and expenditure.
When insufficient energy is available after accounting for exercise and essential bodily functions, the likelihood of experiencing such injuries rises. Athletes must prioritise consuming more energy than they burn through physical activity.
Q: What are the best foods and nutrients to prevent stress injuries/fractures in athletes?
A: Some of the most important micro and macronutrients atheletes needs are:
About half of your bone structure is made from protein. When you have a fracture, your body needs to build new bone for the repair. Good sources include meat, fish, dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), nuts, seeds, beans, soy products, and fortified cereals.
Calcium is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones.
High quantities of calcium can be found in milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods, smaller quantities can be found in almonds, dark leafy green vegetables, tofu and canned fish (with bones.)
If you don’t consume dairy due to plant-based eating or lactose intolerance, supplementation is generally required as there is little calcium in plant-based milk (unless it is fortified.)
Vitamin D –
Vitamin D is critical for good bone health by helping to regulate blood levels of calcium and support the development and maintenance of the skeleton.
Vitamin D is mostly obtained through sunlight. Individuals who work inside and spend little time in the sun may be deficient and require supplementation. Small quantities can be found in oily fish, milk, and fortified products.
Magnesium contributes to the structure of bones and helps control the absorption and metabolism of calcium in bones. High quantities of magnesium can be found in whole grains, almonds, cashews, spinach and legumes.
Aside from helping to reduce muscle soreness, potassium also plays a role in bone health. High quantities can be found in bananas, avocados, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, sweet potatoes and beans.
Silicon is a trace mineral that reduces bone breakdown and stimulates new bone formation. ighHiHigh quantities can be found in carrots, peppers, onions, almonds, oranges and cucumber.
Vitamin K –
The proteins that help repair and rebuild bone tissue all require vitamin K to restore bone health. High amounts of vitamin K can be found in spinach, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, peas and parsley.
Q: Can a physio and dietician work together to prevent stress injuries/fractures and please explain what this would entail
A: Yes. A dietitian would assess the athlete’s diet to ensure it is adequate in all of the above. A physio would focus on ensuring the exercise load is manageable for the athlete.
Q: How long does it typically take to recover from stress injuries/fractures with the help of a dietician and physio?
A: Generally, 6-8 weeks. More so if nutrition is not prioritised. In recovering from a stress fracture, the above nutrients should be prioritised, as well as the following:
Vitamin C and Collagen –
Collagen is a protein that is an important building block for bone. Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, which helps your bone fracture health. Good sources: citrus fruits such as oranges, kiwi fruit, berries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and green vegetables.
Iron helps your body to make collagen to rebuild bone. It also plays a role in getting oxygen into your bones to help them heal. Good sources include red meat, pork, chicken, turkey, oily fish, eggs, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals and fortified cereals.
Advice from a dietician: how food can affect bone injuries in athletes
Many thanks are owed to Ally, the dietician at North West Physio, who has shed light on the profound impact of diet on bone injuries among athletes. She stresses the significance of incorporating bone-boosting foods into one’s diet and underlines the value of collaborating with a physiotherapist while following a personalised dietary regimen designed specifically for athletes seeking to optimise their bone strength and minimise injury risks.
North West Physio Lutwyche is here to assist if you are dealing with a stress fracture or any other injury. Reach out today or book online for a specialised plan to help you get back to doing what you love.