x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Eat your way to an injury-free lifestyle

Eating right not only protects you from chronic illnesses, it also helps prevent physical injuries.

Science continues to show us that healthy foods play a vital role in promoting and preventing many chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. But some foods can also help prevent more acute injuries, such as fractures and strains. Nothing can replace common sense to avoid accidents in the first place - wearing protective equipment or proper-fitting running shoes when playing sports, for example - but adding certain foods to your diet can go a long way for additional protection. Whether you run, swim or are chasing after your little ones, it's worth adding these items to your grocery list to keep your body in top form.

Salmon - omega-3 fatty acids A study from the University of Buffalo in the US found fat intake to be the single best dietary predictor of injury among competitive female runners. Researchers found those with the lowest intake were almost three times more likely to sustain a sports-related injury. Remember that not all fats are created equal, and some are much healthier than others. Salmon stands out for its exceptional omega-3 fatty acid content - an essential ingredient linked to heart health and reduced inflammation. Meet your daily fat requirement by replacing harmful saturated and trans fats with salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds and canola.

Bananas - potassium Bananas are an obvious choice to help prevent injury because they are one of the best food sources of potassium - a nutrient needed for proper muscle contraction. Muscle cramping is a common acute injury that many people endure, which can be caused by a lack of potassium in the diet. Affordable and convenient, bananas are also rich in vitamin C and fibre. Other dietary sources of potassium include tomatoes, avocado and lentils.

Labneh - calcium Calcium gets top marks in preventing injury for its role in building strong bones. A 2007 study published in The Lancet involving more than 63,000 people found that calcium supplements reduced the risk of all types of fractures by 12 per cent in people aged 50 years and older. Osteoporosis Canada recommends eating foods that contain calcium that is easily absorbed, including dairy products. Milk, yogurt and labneh are the best dietary sources of it, but labneh stands out for its high content. Gram for gram, it contains more calcium than yogurt or milk.

Spinach - vitamin K Calcium and vitamin D often get all the praise for building healthy bones, but there's another piece of the puzzle that belongs to a lesser-known nutrient - vitamin K. A 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that vitamin K supplements resulted in a 77 per cent reduction in hip fractures among the elderly. While the jury is still out on who should take a vitamin K supplement and how much is needed, food sources remain an excellent way to stock up on this fat-soluble vitamin. Green leafy vegetables including spinach, parsley and kale are all excellent sources of it, and it's best absorbed when served with a little bit of fat - so try to serve these vegetables with a dash of heart-healthy olive oil.

Kiwi - vitamin C Kiwis offer a hefty dose of vitamin C, a nutrient needed for collagen formation, an important structural element of tendons, ligaments and bone. The body isn't able to store vitamin C because it is water-soluble, which means you need to stock up on a regular basis. Many foods, including kiwi, contain it so it's easy to meet your daily requirement. Red bell peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries and papaya are all high in vitamin C.