What to Eat to Stay Healthy
On and Off the Field
When your name is called
in key situations this coming season, you must be mentally and physically
ready to execute the play successfully. Coaches and teammates will be counting
You don't want to be sidelined
by a seasonal cold or flu.
To help keep your immune
system in top shape, I've put together a "nutritional playbook." Keep the
following foods handy during the new school year to help prevent illnesses—and
if you do get sick, to recover from symptoms more quickly.
Foods for Respiratory
Ailments: Coughs, Asthma, and Sinus and Lung Congestion
Food for Sore Throats
and Stomach Issues
Garlic and Onions. Consuming
raw garlic and onions helps kill cold and flu germs and boosts the immune
system. The allicin and sulfur components are antimicrobial, fungicidal
and antiviral. Garlic is even more potent than onions for alleviating
an annoying ticklish cough or sinus and chest congestion.
Dark Chocolate. Theobromine,
a compound in cocoa, has been shown to lessen coughing from colds, allergies
and asthma. To ease coughs, eat a few pieces of dark chocolate, or make
hot cocoa with cocoa powder or dark chocolate bits.
Ginger. Ginger is effective
in reducing the severity of upper respiratory tract infections, coughing
and bronchitis. Chop some ginger root and add to vegetables, or brew ginger
powder (in spice form) as a tea for a soothing cough remedy.
Cayenne Pepper, Horseradish,
and Spicy Hot Mustard. Cayenne pepper, horseradish and hot mustard
are natural decongestants. Just a half-teaspoon of Chinese hot mustard
is enough to temporarily unclog stuffed sinuses.
bacteria in yogurt—help support the body's natural defense against upper
respiratory tract infections. Check yogurt ingredients to make sure they
include active yogurt cultures (for example, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus,
bifinobacterium, L. acidophilus). Sugar-free plain Greek yogurt is best.
Besides enhancing general health, yogurt also has bone-building calcium
and muscle-building protein to boost recovery between workouts. Strong
bones are essential to minimize injury on and off the field.
Apples. The adage "an
apple a day keeps the doctor away" has scientific backing. British researchers
found that consuming more than five apples weekly improves lung function
and reduces the risk of respiratory ailments, including asthma and colds.
Besides bolstering your immune system, the fruit's antioxidants can help
you breathe easier on the field (like when endurance is especially needed
to go the extra yard late in the game).
Bananas. This super fruit
is useful in suppressing dry coughs. Bananas are also a wonderful energizing
snack when they're combined with a protein such as yogurt or nuts to fuel
workouts. They're a high-carb source that's ideal for post-workout recovery.
(For a great post-workout muscle-building snack, eat one with chocolate
More ways to keep colds
and flus at bay
Honey and Lemon. This
duo mixed with black or green tea is a popular sore throat/ticklish cough
remedy. The vitamin C in lemons strengthens the immune system to
ward off colds, and honey's antioxidants are a natural defense during cold
and flu season.
Yogurt, Apples, Bananas,
Ginger. These foods, mentioned earlier, are multi-taskers. They're
also excellent for digestive health and lessening stomach problems such
as nausea and diarrhea.
Papayas. This tropical
fruit contains the enzymes papain and chymopapain, which reduce indigestion
and upset stomach.
Avocados. Sliced avocado,
plain or in salads, contains not only heart-friendly fat but also beneficial
oil to naturally prevent indigestion and other stomach woes.
Drink plenty of water.
Plain water not only hydrates your body during workouts, practices and
games, it also keeps your throat moist to prevent germs from sticking and
causing sore throats and dry coughs.
Gargle with apple cider vinegar
or saltwater. A tablespoon of apple cider videgar mixed in warm water
several times daily can help get rid of a sore throat and dry cough. Gargling
with warm salt water may also do the trick.
Drink a cup or two of green
or black tea every day. It not only contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants
for promoting sports and exercise recovery, but it also helps lessen sore
throats and congestion—particularly when mixed with honey and lemon.
Don't forget nuts, seeds,
olive oil, and fish. They boost your immune system, brain health (so
you're mentally sharp in the classroom and on the field) and cardiovascular
performance during exercise and sports.