a player - cricketer, tennis, hockey, badminton etc. players,
tour out side India for over 3-4 weeks we have observed marked
changes in his, her nutritional status, health and fitness.
This ultimately affects ones overall performance and therefore
must be given serious thought and consideration.
anemia is one of the world’s greatest deficiency problems
and one that affects a player very seriously. Endurance and
stamina are directly related to your oxygen supply from the
blood. Iron has to be consumed in the diet and this builds heamoglobin
(Hb) in the blood. Heamoglobin is the oxygen lorry that carries
oxygen from the lungs to the whole body. If your iron intake
is low then the Hb count drops. Players must have a Hb count
above 15 for boys and men and above 12 for girls and women.
If yours is say 13.5 mg/dl, then it is like saying you have
only 13,500 lorries to supply your oxygen instead of 15,000
lorries. You will get tired very fast and never be able to complete
with another player whose Hb is 15 or 16 even though you may
actually be more talented than them.
liver and beef are the richest sources of iron. But in the
Indian diet we do not consume so much non-veg and usually
even if we eat it we don’t do so daily. However those
of us who eat wheat and dhal or pulses (channa) daily have
a good iron supply through these. Please note, palak/greens
have a rich iron content but recent research shows that the
body is unable to absorb the iron from greens.
Nutrition Consultant to the National Cricket Academy for the
last 4 years we have observed that when Indians travel abroad
their staple food becomes rice and pasta and both these have
a very poor iron content. They are unable to get chapatti
and dhal easily and the existing iron store in their body
may last for 2-3 weeks, but after that they feel weak and
rundown. The second leading cause for anemia is missing meals.
Due to tension or tight schedules, many miss their meals or
eat just a sandwich or just fruit or just a glass of milk
at some meals. If this happens regularly for 2-3 weeks, we
will definitely see a Hb drop.
One more leading cause for iron deficiency is worm infestation.
All games involving contact with soil from the ball or bat,
racket etc. can lead to players getting worms into their bodies.
Worms feed on our blood and this result in a Hb drop.
All players must have their Hb tested with a simple
blood test before going on a tour. If the level is low
it cannot be raised only by diet. An iron supplement has
to be taken for atleast the next 3 months.
Some players may be genetically prone to low Hb levels-
they must make sure that they carry iron supplements whenever
they are into a series of matches for 2-3 week periods.
Deworming must be done once in 4 or 6 months correctly
Make a conscious effort
never to skip a meal and always eat properly balanced
Eat plenty of fresh
fruits and salad whenever possible as vitamin B &
C helps in increasing iron absorption into the body. Dried
dates and raisins are also a good source of iron and easy
to carry so snack on these whenever possible.
Specifically ask for whole wheat bread and whole cereals
like corn flakes or wheat flakes for breakfast along with
milk and egg. Add a fruit to this. White bread and rice
items are very poor in iron content.
At lunch try to eat chapatti but if not available eat
rice but make sure there is dhal with it and if possible
fish. Make sure you eat some vegetable, salad and fruit
as B and C vitamins help to increase the iron absorption.
If eating sandwiches ask for them to be made with whole
wheat bread and filled with cheese, egg or chicken. Definitely
eat some salad or fruit with the sandwich.
At dinner again try to get chapatti but if not possible
eat whole wheat bread or whole-wheat pasta which is brown
in colour. Try to eat dhal or channa (called chick pea
abroad) with the chapatti or ask for a lentil soup. Eat
plenty of boiled vegetables and salad with dinner and
try to eat fruits as dessert rather than fatty sweets.
Non-fat yogurt may be eaten both with lunch and dinner.