HOW TO BOOST IMMUNITY AND AVOID GETTING SICK
It seems every year around this time, when the weather starts to change, midterm exams creep up, hockey playoffs are in full swing, and you need to be at your best….you get nailed with a cold.
The high intensity demands of sport and academics, along with the close proximity to classmates, and teammates, increases risk of getting sick.
The last thing that you need this time of year is to sideline yourself with a prolonged sickness. Most often, performance suffers when you’re not at your best (although, I did hear a story from one of our athlete’s dads about her being sick as a dog, and dropping 26 points, and snagging 8 rebounds in her collegiate basketball game last week).
While feats like this are very rare, you must consider other actions to take in order to stay healthy, and be ready to be at your best during critical times of the year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BOOST IMMUNITY
CONSUME ENOUGH CALORIES TO SUPPORT YOUR NEEDS
When you don’t eat enough, your body responds by creating more stress hormones that have a direct relation to decreased immunity.
ADEQUATELY FUEL FOR TRAINING
Ensuring you have consumed enough carbohydrates is essential to maintain immune function during exercise. Protein also play a big role in building and repairing necessary body tissues.
A dry mouth decreases the ability for it to act as an immunological barrier. This means more susceptibility to bacteria and viruses. Dehydration can also cause an increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to immunosuppression.
70% of your immune function arises from the bacteria in your gut. A healthy gut comes from eating a balanced diet (full of fruits and veggies), as well as foods that contain pre- and probiotics.
MICRONUTRIENTS AND ANTIOXIDANTS
Iron, zinc, Vitamin D, A, E, C, and phytochemicals such as beta-carotene, play an important role in immune function.
- legumes, beef ,chicken, pork, spinach, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, mushrooms
- sunlight, fortified dairy, salmon tuna, mackerel, beef, egg yokes
- red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, artichokes, quinoa, prunes, asparagus, oatmeal
- oranges, apples, berries, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, asparagus, onions, garlic, beets, spinach
Now that you have some relevant info, the next step is to put this knowledge into action. Here’s how you can make the most of your nutrition habits to boost immunity and avoid being sick
- don’t skip meals, and eat a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, fibre, and carbohydrates
- drink lots of water, and avoid sugary, caffeinated drinks during the day.
- consume carbohydrates and fluids, before, during and after practice or competition.
- eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and other fibre rich foods
Sometimes getting sick is inevitable, but if you have a strong immune system, and you are training intelligently, you should be able to bounce back quickly. Another key is to get rest, so if you are competing hard during a time you are sick, you are at risk of prolonging or worsening the sickness.
- NCAA Sport Institute