Cold and flu season is here, and it can be a struggle to keep your young athlete healthy as their friends and classmates start getting sick. As all sport parents know, a good defense requires a good offense, so here are a few simple nutritional tips to help boost your child’s immunity this season and hopefully keep them in school and in sport.
Fruits and vegetables can be powerful medicine. TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily from all the colors of the rainbow – preferably, two fruits and three vegetables.
This helps ensure that your child is getting the vitamins they need to stay healthy: vitamins A, C, and E are all critical to a high-functioning immune system.
Researchers have found that zinc can boost immune function in children, yet globally, one in six people are deficient in the mineral. Foods high in zinc include red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, cashews, and dairy. If you have a picky eater, try these delicious options:
The Cleveland Clinic also recommends limiting processed foods for your young athlete, as the gut bacteria that thrive on highly-processed sugars aren’t as immune-system-boosting as the bacteria that thrive on a healthier, high-fiber diet.
Encourage your athlete to consume more whole foods, including brightly colored fruits and veggies, as well as zinc-rich foods.