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Boost your Immune System with these Immunonutrition Tips

Boost your Immune System with these Immunonutrition Tips



Illness and infections happen to the best of us, but there are ways to help prevent them from occurring. Here are some general guidelines from NBPA partner Orreco, to help support your immune system and reduce the risk of illness and infections.


SUGGESTED FOODS


1. FRUIT & VEGETABLE INTAKE

Increase consumption of fruit and vegetables to 7-8 servings a day to enhance immune function and decrease the risk of upper respiratory tract infections(URTI). Specifically, fruits and vegetables rich in polyphenols (Strawberries, Raspberries, Cherries, Apples, Grapes, Tomatoes, Spinach, Onions) and carotenoids (Red Peppers, Green Peppers, Brocolli, Kale, Peas, Pumpkin, Tomatoes, Carrots, SweetPotatoes).


2. VITAMIN D

Vitamin D is important in maintenance of the immunes system and if athletes are deficient there will be an increased risk of illness and infection. Vitamin D is mainly obtained through sunlight and so it is suggested that athletes increase their exposure to sunlight* to increase Vitamin D levels. Try get outside, provided you are symptom-free and not self-isolating, for 30 minutes in the morning hours before noon. Not only will sun exposure to your skin help top up vitamin D stores, but getting this exposure in the morning can help your sleep patterns by reducing some of the negative impacts of electronics!

*Be sure to consult physician about recommended sunlight exposure times.


3. PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS 

Probiotics and prebiotics may play a prominent role in reducing illness and infection risk through the interaction between the gut and immune system. Many different strains of bacteria have been shown to enhance aspects of the immune system that protect against illness and infections. However, there are bacterial strains that cause harm to the immune system and affect men and women differently. Probiotic yoghurts and drinks mayoer a simple way to increase your intake. Probiotic drinks such as Yakult and Dannon DanActive are available in most supermarkets and are both tasty and convenient! Additionally, kombucha drinks, alongside other fermented foods such as kimchi, are rich in prebiotics.


4. CARBOHYDRATES

The most common time an illness and/or infection can occur is during the recovery phase after a long duration training session (>1.5 hours). Carbohydrate ingestion during a session can reduce the risk of illness and infection by enhancing immune function during the recovery phase. Contact your team nutritionist for advice on tailoring your intake based on your current training load. Remember, calorific restriction can compromise immune function.


5. HYDRATION

Maintaining adequate levels of hydration has been shown to reduce your risk of illness and infection. Aim for AT LEAST 1.2 fl oz per 2.2 lbs body weight of fluid a day. You will need more if you are working out too! To encourage drinking enough water try flavoring your drinks with fresh fruit pieces such as sliced strawberries, lime, lemon, watermelon, etc.


6. PROTEIN 

Protein plays a number of vital roles in protecting our bodies from illness, injury and infection. Aim to consume 0.07oz of protein per 2.2 lbs of body weight per day, e.g. a 220lbs athlete may require 7oz of protein per day. Aim to distribute this evenly across your meals and snacks throughout the day. Protein rich foods include meats, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, soy, legumes.


7. ENERGY BALANCE

Chronic or extreme calorie deficits can impair your immune function and place you at an increased risk picking up an illness or infection. If you are concerned about managing your weight be sure to consult your physician who can advise on an appropriate strategy to manage body weight and composition without compromising immune function.