How Can Dancers Keep Healthy?
Industry Dance students are active, growing kids - developing their muscles and their brains. I was fortunate enough to corner the Gold Coast’s legendary health guru, Katrina Ellis, over a nutritious lunch (of course!) and I asked her how we can ensure our gorgeous young dancers get the best start for their developing bodies. I regard Katrina’s wealth of knowledge on matters regarding nutrition highly and I could not bear to leave out a word of her wise advice. Here is Part One. Look out for Part Two next week.
Dancing is one of the most demanding sports out there. What are the best vitamins for children – kids at the studio are aged from five years up to late teens? What are your top three nutrients?
Nutrients obtained from healthy foods are essential to a child’s growth and sports performance. It is so difficult for me to choose the three most important nutrients essential to a child’s health, as there are so many important nutrients needed to ensure optimal development. The most important are definitely Vitamin A, C and D, B vitamins, magnesium, iodine, zinc and iron, but every nutrient plays an important role in creating a happy and strong child. Some of my top fav’s are:
MAGNESIUM helps to relax muscles and nerves, improves sleep and moods in kids, acts as an electrolyte to stop dehydration, provides healthy support for growing bones and helps to release energy from foods. Without magnesium, kids get moody, tired, cranky, cramps, poor sleep and sore muscles. So it makes sense as to why so many growing kids need this mineral. If you can’t get a magnesium capsule or powder into your child, try using a magnesium spray or roll on or even magnesium baths to give back the yummy magnesium that will make your child happy and stress free.
IODINE is often overlooked in this world, yet it is one of the most common deficiencies seen in Australian children. Iodine helps with a child’s growth, development, intelligence, energy and radiation protection against iPads, computers and mobile phones. If a child is deficient in iodine they become tired, dreamy, forgetful, they lack concentration and will not perform as well or as energetically as they should. It is particularly important for girls when they become teenagers, as they need this for healthy hormones, moods and energy.
PROBIOTICS are not really a vitamin or mineral, but are essential to ideal health, happiness and immunity. There are thousands of different microbial species that coexist in every child’s digestive system – some of these are friendly and some are unfriendly – but they live in harmony when in balance. Probiotics provide the friendly bacteria to help with absorption and healthy digestion, making serotonin for beautiful sleep, creating dopamine for energy and concentration, stopping tummy bugs and flu. Healthy foods can provide prebiotics to build up a kids probiotics, but it is even better to prop up levels by taking a multi-billion probiotic formula rich in both lactobacillus and bifidus species. Never choose a shelf brand, opt for a good practitioner based supplement to ensure you are getting the species your kid needs.
How do vitamin requirements change as young children develop into teens? Do young dancers require more of a certain vitamin/ supplement?
As children grow into adolescence their nutrient requirements change, largely due to hormonal changes and growth spurts. Girls need more magnesium, zinc and B6 to ensure a healthy and happy menstruation. Dancers will use up more of these nutrients, especially magnesium. It is very important to make sure you have plenty of Vitamin C rich foods, as Vitamin C knits collagen together keeping it strong and injury free. Vegan protein powders can be very useful for dancers, as the amino acids ensure that the connective tissues stay strong and healthy. A dancer should consider adding a strong EPA rich fish oil into their diet to reduce inflammation or foods like turmeric, ginger, pineapple, fish and papaya (all these foods reduce inflammation to stop injuries). For ligament injuries, I recommend products that contain MSM, Boswellia, Glucosamine, Chondroitin and lysine, proline and glycine. My fav healing products are DISC-FLEX (for weak or injured discs), BROMELAIN (for knee or foot sprains, strains) and Chondro-Care Excel for back injuries. For a yummy, healing drink, I love using Choc-Honeycomb Kids Good Stuff (over 10 serves of vegetables), Colostrum (boosts immunity), Clean Lean Protein blended with ice and coconut or almond milk. Kids can take this to dancing and drink as a snack in between classes.
How important is a good nutrition to get dancers through classes and avoid injury? Can lack of good nutrition actually cause injury?
Good nutrition is essential for any athlete, including dancers, to avoid injury and muscle fatigue. Nutrients from healthy foods supply all the key nutrients, like magnesium, calcium, Vitamin D, silica, zinc, B vitamins, Vitamin C and amino acids to ensure connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and bones stay strong, lubricated and resilient. Even a deficiency of one of these nutrients can cause injury, muscle fatigue, strains and other problems. If a child does not eat enough quality protein or even absorb enough protein for their demanding sport, their connective tissues can become weak causing bone, muscle and tendon injuries.
Drinking one can of soft drink, containing around seven teaspoons of sugar, can strip a child’s daily magnesium stores, as well as calcium and B vitamins, plus their liver has to work harder to remove waste. A healthy, nutritious and balanced diet, rich in good quality protein, fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds will keep your child strong, resilient and injury free.
Katrina Ellis N.D.
Naturopath, Herbalist, Iridologist, Nutritionist, Author
If you want to check your child’s minerals or need more information check out www.katrinaellis.com.au or call the Katrina Ellis Natural Health Centre on 0755363113