It is not uncommon to ‘feel like a cold is coming on’ when training volume is at its peak. The following are tips to help maintain healthy immune function, as you place greater demands on your body:
- Eat colorful fruits & vegetables, especially the dark green leafy, rich reds, and bright oranges – These foods will provide antioxidants to protect your cells from exercise-induced oxidative stress and the inflammatory processes of exercise.
- Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, trout, walnuts, and ground flax seeds) – It is well established that dietary omega-3s affect the composition of cell membranes of lung tissue, the production of local hormones that regulate the inflammatory processes, and the movement & activities of white blood cells on mucus membranes. Some clinical evidence indicates that omega-3s may reduce bronchial inflammation in asthmatics, even when they are deliberately challenged with known airborne allergens.
- Choose foods that contain probiotics (kefir & yogurt with live and active cultures, kimchi & sauerkraut) – Probiotics are beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural digestive juices & enzymes that keep our digestive organs functioning properly. Probiotics can deliver health benefits when consumed live.
- Consume adequate fluids throughout the day – Although there is limited evidence showing the direct effects of dehydration on immune function, dehydration has been postulated as one of the possible mechanisms leading to immune dysfunction in marathon runners – Korey Stinger Institute (www.ksi.uconn.edu).