Boosting Your Natural Immunity
Published at 27 Mar 2018 | Posted by Allsports Nutrition
Tips and suggestions for avoiding infections across the seasons.

Committed athletes are constantly in danger of overtraining. New ideas that could shed seconds off your PB are irresistible but in the cold light of day they can prove one step to far for your body, you contract a viral infection then end up resting for days, running the risk of losing fitness not gaining it. There are a few things that athletes can do though to maximise their own natural immunity and reduce the risk of infections and illness.

Here are our suggestions:

Carbohydrate Intake

Your normal diet should provide ample carbohydrate at all times. Carbs are not the enemy - the human body is essentially a highly complex machine that requires a balance of different fuels (nutrients) to keep all of its components working efficiently. A balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water is the key - not omitting any one of these groups. Low-carb diets should be avoided, and during training sessions longer than 90 minutes or very intense sessions, 500-1000ml of carbohydrate drink containing 60g of carbs per litre should be ingested every hour. What is the science behind this? Studies have shown that athletes training in a glycogen-depleted state after spending several days on a low-carb diet have a much higher release of stress hormones (such as adrenaline and cortisol) than those training under normal dietary conditions. This enhanced stress hormone release is linked to a decrease in immune function.

Diet Quality

Immunity can be adversely affected by any number of nutrient deficiencies. Athletes should always ensure their diet is rich in whole unprocessed foods, fruits, vegetables, high quality proteins and is low in fast/processed foods. A broad spectrum multivitamin/mineral supplement is beneficial in preventing a nutrient shortfall in one particular area - most of us have likes and dislikes when it comes to food which can create an imbalance of nutrients.

Vitamin C

Deficiencies in any of the vitamins A, E, folic acid, B6, B12 and C can impair immunity, as can deficiencies of the minerals iron, copper, selenium, zinc, magnesium and manganese. Vitamin C is highly susceptible to destruction by cooking processes and exposure to light so is an obvious choice for a supplemental top-up.

The common-sense bit - Lifestyle and Hygiene

Athletes should ensure they get plenty of sleep and relaxation, minimising fatigue and emotional stress where possible. Good hygiene practices of regular hand washing are recommended to reduce the risk of transferring virus particles to the eyes, nose and throat - the open gateways to the immune system!

Peak Performance Special Report: Nutritional Supplements


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