With the end of the season and the approach of winter, we are entering the period of flu and cold. During these months, applying a correct nutritional strategy in addition to maternal advice will also help protect our health.
We probably wouldn’t want to spoil our condition, which is not already at a high level, by catching a viral infection and interrupting training. In this article, we will talk about the nutritional strategies and supplements that should be applied in winter training and in your daily diet.
Since the heavy training to be done while preparing for the new season will already strain the immune system, it is necessary not to put the system at risk with inappropriate nutrition methods. After hard work, our body becomes more susceptible to respiratory infections for 24 hours. A severe race also disrupts the functioning of immune functions for a week or two. Athletes who have to carry out their trainings together with school and / or work life strain their body resources and cope with infections more difficultly under these conditions. Moreover, in the coming months we will encounter a lot of people coughing and choking, and it will not be difficult to get disease germs from them.
Increased oxygen consumption during training increases the level of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause tissue damage at the cellular level. One of the measures to be taken against this is to increase the amount of food consumed and to supplement with antioxidants. Thus, we increase the performance of the immune system. A strong immune system not only makes it harder to get sick, but also helps to recover faster if we get sick. The two most important points in nutrition in order to keep the immune system healthy is not to be deprived of any necessary nutrients and to consume the appropriate amount of nutrients.
# 1 Daily Diet and Supplements
Vitamin C is one of the best known substances for preventing colds. The reputation of this substance that it has an immune system activating effect is known to many. With the mineral-multivitamin tablets available in pharmacies, the daily vitamin C need is easily met, but we should not ignore the issue of consuming foods with this vitamin. People who engage in endurance sports can easily get large amounts of vitamin C by eating fresh fruit three times a day and boiled vegetables twice a day. In fact, most of the studies do not prove that vitamin C taken as a supplement strengthens the immune system. Despite this, athletes never give up vitamin C pills. 250 mg of vitamin C per day completely saturates the body with this substance. Some of the foods known as vitamin C stores are sweet peppers, citrus fruits (and their freshly squeezed juices), kiwi and broccoli. In two studies from South Africa, very interesting results have been reached regarding vitamin C supplements. In the first study, 600 mg of vitamin C was supplemented for 3 weeks to athletes who will participate in a 90 km ultra marathon. During the two weeks after the race, these athletes had far fewer upper respiratory tract ailments. A continuation test with the same subjects also supported the initial results. On the other hand, the results of another more recent study have not come out that well. Again, before a 90 km ultra marathon, no conclusion could be reached that the immunity increased or oxidation decreased in the athletes who were supplemented with 1500 mg / day vitamin C for 7 days. So increasing the dosage does not work well. Although the possible negative effects of high doses of vitamin C are not known, it is known that some gastrointestinal disorders are encountered at doses above 1000 mg. So it should not be exaggerated…
No matter what you take as a supplement, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is always beneficial for immunity. These foods are rich in carotenoid substances that accelerate the work of white blood cells called lymphocytes, as well as contain many chemicals that have a protective effect. Also, beta-carotene substance found in fruits and vegetables turns into vitamin A and acts as a serious nutrient for the immune system.
# 2 Essential Fatty Acids
It supports the immune system if the meal routine contains sufficient and correct fats. Of course, an excessively fatty diet negatively affects immunity, but a very fat-free diet prevents us from getting the much needed fatty acids. Consuming unsaturated fats containing omega – 6 and omega – 3 helps protect our health. Although omega-6 intake is generally sufficient during nutrition, it is beneficial to turn to walnut, oily fish and soy-based meals, as deficiencies are detected in omega-3 intake.
# 3 Nutrition Strategies Based on Workout
In addition to applying a healthy diet and supporting it with the right supplements, it is also necessary to adapt the diet to the training conditions. Stressing of the immune system due to physical exertion is due to the increase in stress hormone levels. In order to prevent this, it is necessary to regulate the diet in a way that reduces stress hormones, does not decrease the number of immune cells in the blood and provides low oxidation. One of the most important of these regulations is carbohydrate intake before, during and after training. Training with sufficient carbohydrate storage both provides the fuel required for exercise and also helps the formation of a strong immune system. Strength athletes who train with low carbohydrate levels experience a serious increase in stress hormones. Carbohydrate foods to be taken before, during and after training help the immune system, which is suppressed by intense exercise, to recover itself.
To summarize; To support your immune system, you need a daily diet adequate in carbohydrates, adjusted to the daily training intensity and frequency. The carbohydrates you consume during long training (usually found in sports drinks) support the immune system, which is challenged by endurance training. After a hard workout, you need 50–75 g of carbohydrates and 10–15 g of protein to support your energy level. These substances help to start the post-workout recovery process. This point needs to be underlined because the few hours after heavy training is a period when immune functions are not working well. During this period, it is necessary to avoid contact with people who have colds. Of course, keeping the stress level in our lives under control and adequate sleep are other indispensable points for a healthy immune system.
Hoping to help you with your training while winter comes …
Source: Nutrition advice for athletes: Keeping your immune system strong for winter training By Monique Ryan, MS, RD