Did you know that minimizing your risk of sickness before a big race or during training can be as simple as incorporating certain immune boosting foods into your diet?
A healthy immune system involves more than popping Vitamin C pills. Certain foods can boost your immune system to the point of preventing the onset of sickness and should be a part of your daily routine. Eating enough plant based foods, keeping your protein intake up and including carbohydrate rich foods around high volume training will serve to boost your immune function, plus, nobody wants to get sick just before a race, especially if you’ve been training for months leading up to it.
What can I eat to boost my immune system?
Nutrition is an incredibly important part of your performance, training and ultimately the results. It’s as important as hygiene, sleep and structured rest in keeping your immune function up. Aside from a healthy, balanced diet, and having meals at relatively regular times, there are certain foods that will specifically work to support your immunity. Here are several foods to incorporate into your daily diet and lifestyle to ensure you keep the illness at bay.
1. Eat plenty of protein
Protein rich foods, particularly when training ramps up, will help boost your immunity. Increased amounts of proteins will also ensure muscle repair and recovery is adequate, and put you in a better position to fight off any bugs floating around.
2. Don’t skimp on carbs
Don’t go too low on the carbs for too long, or when the miles pick up as this will knock your immune functions. Of course, when choosing carbohydrates, always opt for a healthier, whole wheat options as opposed to white, refined carbs.
3. Include these functional foods
Functional foods to put on your winter shopping list include garlic, onion, kiwi fruit, walnuts, oily fish like salmon or mackerel and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or pickles. The above list of foods serve in the production of white blood cells as well as boosting their functioning, which are responsible for fending off sickness.
4. When in doubt, supplement
It can be difficult to ingest or consume all the food needed to boost your immune system, which is when you can look to supplements or vitamins. Some professionals say that leading up to a big race, probiotics, zinc, folic acid and l-glutamine supplementation can be useful for reducing the risk of post-race dips in immune function. They will work to keep your white blood cell count high.
5. Eat your sunshine
Sunshine provides the largest source of Vitamin D for our bodies, so in the cooler months when sunshine isn’t necessarily a given, you need to ensure you’re still getting enough Vitamin D. You can do this through foods high in Vitamin D, like leafy greens or oily fish, or by taking Vitamin D supplements.